​Oilsands haulers painted pink, blue to support cancer research and mental health awareness

Image: KMC Mining/SMS Equipment

Right now in the oilsands there are two very unusual heavy haulers at work.

The boxes of the giant Komatsu machines were recently painted pink and blue in support of prostate cancer research, breast cancer research and mental health awareness.

It's a big statement from partners SMS Equipment Inc. and KMC Mining.

It’s personal for employees and executives with both companies, including the CEO of KMC Mining.

“As with most families, my family has been touched by cancer both breast cancer and prostate cancer, so that makes it personal,” Don Klemke said in a video posted online about the initiative. It was Klemke’s idea to add mental health to the efforts to support cancer research.

“On the mental health side, I’ve been more than touched by that. I’ve been slammed. My wife and I travelled to Asia to attend a wedding; she had a very bad reaction to one of those live vaccines and basically she was unable to eat or sleep for about six weeks after that. In early January 2013 she went to the High Level Bridge in Edmonton and she didn’t come back. When something bad or terrible happens people tend to just clam up. It’s always an uncomfortable conversation, but it needs to be had. It has to be real.”

SMS Equipment’s Brian Berkshire was diagnosed with Padget’s disease, a form of breast cancer.

“We’re all healthy until something happens,” he said. “It can happen to anyone. Have yourself checked.”

The company’s vice-president of business development, Dirk Maritz, explained that the trucks are intended “to get the message out - ‘Are you ok?’”