In a city of nearly 14,000 people, Chere Rush was feeling awfully alone.
In 2007, the 47-year-old mother of three from Discovery Bay was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.
"I found a lump, ignored it for several months," Rush said. "I finally went to the doctor and found out it spread all over my body."
Rush says, among her husband, sons and church family, she had a great support system. Still, personally, she didn't know anyone else battling cancer, no one who could truly understand what she was going through.
At least that is how it was before she met neighbor Heather McCullough at an American Cancer Society Relay For Life event. It turned out the two women's children had gone to school together. But that's not all they had in common. McCullough was battling breast cancer as well.
Not long after that, the two women connected with two more breast cancer survivors from east Contra Costa County: Debbie Bordeau and Heather Solari, both from Oakley.
The four women formed such a quick, strong bond, they gave their group a name: Survivor Sisters.
The women would meet regularly to support each other, sharing good news and bad.
"I can talk to the girls and they can they understand before I even have to say it," Solari says. "They know what I’m going through. It’s just easier to talk to someone who knows what’s going on."
The four benefitted so much from each other, they decided others should share as well. They formed a Survivor Sisters group on Facebook, one that now boasts more than 80 members.
Still, the Survivor Sisters wanted to do more.
That is where the idea of the pink plate comes in. The state of California has permitted many different specialty license plates over the years, but never one promoting awareness of breast cancer.
The women designed a plate (pink in color) and have been pushing for the past year to get the state legislature to approve it for production and use.
Along the bottom of the license plate are the words "Early Detection Saves Lives."
"If one woman sees that plate and says, 'Yeah, I should get a mammogram,'" Bordeau says, "and that mammogram detects cancer and saves her life, you know it’s all been worth it.
Their effort to get a pink plate approved by the legislature failed this year, but the women say they are not giving up and will continue to lobby for its passage during next year's legislative session.
"I think the bigger lesson is that you be a fighter," McCullough said. "To fight for what you want, whether you’re fighting for breast cancer or some other cause. It’s just what we really believe in."