PROUD TO WEAR PINK: Today, Barbara Mendoza will put on a special bra, one that is light pink and glittery. She added by hand the rhinestone letters that spell out "believe" and "live."
The 61-year-old Carrollwood wife and mother will wear it proudly over a white tee for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk — actually, that's walks, since they're happening both in Tampa and St. Petersburg.
As a breast cancer survivor, Barbara's pink bra is more than a fashion statement. "It's actually my armor. It's given me the will to fight more," she said.
Ten years ago, a surgeon told her not to cry when he diagnosed the lump in her breast as cancer. She felt alone with a painful secret.
Then Barbara learned about Making Strides, organized by the American Cancer Society. She found out about classes that helped her learn to wear a wig and adjust her makeup for chemo's side effects. And she heard how other women have healed. Now she inspires others.
''That's what we're here for," she said. "There's hope."
Both walks start today at 9 a.m. The Tampa walk begins at the St. Pete Times Forum, and the St. Petersburg event starts from Vinoy Park. For more information, go to makingstrides.acsevents.org.
Letitia Stein, Times staff writer
Parents tend to worry about their little witches and ghouls getting tainted candy in their trick-or-treat bags. But that should really be the least of their Halloween safety concerns, says Garry Gardner, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention.
• Pedestrian and auto safety top Gardner's list. "Young kids get excited and run from house to house, and drivers might not see them," especially if the children are wearing dark clothing.
• Remind kids to "cross at the corner and to look to the left, to the right, and to the left again" before crossing. Younger children should hold a grownup's hand when crossing.
• Porch decorations can also pose risks to trick-or-treaters. Make sure the entranceway isn't slippery. Remove decorations that kids might trip over, and secure candle-lit jack-o'-lanterns out of the kids' pathway.
, Avoid costumes with belts and sashes that can get caught on things or wrap around the neck. "For younger kids, it's better to decorate or paint their faces than to have them wear a mask," he says.
• As for those treats, Gardner is more worried about too much candy than tainted candy. Of course, a parent should examine each piece for signs of tampering. Beyond that, he suggests rationing candy so the child doesn't eat it all at once.
• Parents of kids with peanut allergies need to be especially careful to read labels. Allergic trick-or-treaters should carry an epinephrine injection pen and an "allergy action plan" they've worked out with their physicians. Young kids should be accompanied by a grownup familiar with that plan.
• Other good ideas: a flashlight, wipes for cleaning hands and a cell phone for emergencies.
PUMPKINS REPURPOSED: Bright orange pumpkins aren't just for decoration. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins A, C and B6, folate, potassium and iron, says registered dietitian Keri Glassman. A cup of plain, steamed, mashed pumpkin has about 50 calories.
Pumpkins used for jack-o'-lanterns, though edible, aren't the best for cooking. Other varieties better suited for food, such as sugar and pie pumpkins, are also in peak season this month. And unsweetened, canned pumpkin is just as nutritious, she says.
Here are some of Glassman's tips for using pumpkin:
• Add pureed pumpkin to plain yogurt with cinnamon or to oatmeal with cinnamon and walnuts.
• Toss roasted pumpkin pieces into any salad.
• Mash pumpkin with cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes.
• Serve roasted pumpkin as a simple side dish instead of sweet potato.
n Pumpkin seeds provide healthy fats and protein, plus magnesium, zinc and iron. Rinse and drain them, discarding the stringy stuff, and spread them on a baking sheet. Add salt or other seasonings and roast at 300 degrees until golden brown, shaking the tray or stirring the seeds every few minutes to avoid burning. One ounce (about 85 seeds) has about 125 calories.