‘Power of Pink’ campaign kicks off

Heather Wright-Renick, center, a breast cancer survivor and navigator at the Breast Center, poses for a picture during Thursday’s kickoff of the Power of Pink fundraising campaign to purchase a new state of the art imaging machine. Photo by Aly McClure


More than 100 people attended Thursday night’s kickoff of the Power of Pink fundraising drive at Samy’s Spirits and Steakhouse, whose goal is to raise $200,000 toward purchasing a 3D digital tomosynthesis machine, a state of the art machine used to detect breast cancer.

Heather Wright-Renick, St. Catherine Hospital Breast Center Navigator and five-year breast cancer survivor, said statistically, 1 in 8 people and 1 in 1,000 men are likely to develop breast cancer.

Wright-Renick was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and had to travel to Wichita to get a digital mammogram because it wasn’t available here. In 2013, two digital mammogram machines were dedicated in Garden City.

“We were super excited,” she said.

But then she learned while getting training in Colorado for the local breast program here that those new machines were already “10 years behind the curve” in breast cancer detection technology.

While grateful for the fundraising that brought digital mammograms here, Wright-Renick said she felt deflated to learn Garden City was behind the curve. That made her determined to bring state of the art technology here for the women of southwest Kansas. The alternative would be to travel long distances to access the advanced machines.

“If we don’t have 3D tomosynthesis here in the next four years, then I will have to take my children somewhere else to get the best breast care. This is where I live. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I can’t bring someone here if I can’t provide the top care for my own children,” she said. “In 2013 we were 10 years behind the curve in digital mammogram. We’re not going to be behind the curve now.”

Dr. Jeffery Sparacino, an interventional radiologist at St. Catherine Hospital, talks about the benefits of the 3D tomosynthesis machine during Thursday’s kickoff of the Power of Pink fundraising campaign. Photo by Aly McClure

Compared to current 2D imaging, the image quality of the 3D tomosynthesis is vastly improved, better for dense or large breasts, detects calcification better, and cuts down on the recall rate requiring diagnostic follow up by 40 percent. The new machine will re

place the two current machines and patients won’t need to be referred to other communities so follow up care can stay local.

Dr. Jeffery Sparacino, an interventional radiologist who started work at St. Catherine just a month ago, said the technology allows health care professionals to see cancers much better and catch them sooner. He added that the tomosynthesis machine also offers a much lower dose of radiation, far lower than traditional mammography, and pointed out that malignancies that are easily missed using conventional 2D imaging are clearly seen using a 3D holistic mammogram.

The tomosynthesis machine costs $425,000. St. Catherine Hospital has agreed to raise about half that amount from its capital fund. The other half will be raised by teams formed as part of the Power of Pink fundraiser.

Currently, the campaign is being spearheaded by 13 teams of eight people who seek donations and pledges and perform a variety of other fundraising activities including a raffle, community pancake feed at Applebee’s from 7 to 9 a.m. Nov. 8, as well as selling Power of Pink merchandise at the Breast Center.

In addition, next Thursday, Oct. 26, Western Motors will be donating $50 toward the cause for every test drive of any new Buick on the lot; and Samy’s is hosting a Power of Pink Ladies Night starting at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 featuring the men of the 2018 Firefighter Calendar.

Raffle tickets will be sold through December and the drawing will be held Dec. 20. Some of the prizes that have been donated so far include a stay in a Lake of the Ozarks cabin; a guided fishing trip at Beaver Lake, Ark.; use of a ski condo in Red River, N.M.; a pink ribbon handmade quilt; two $500 Visa gift cards, and 6 tickets to Parrot Cove water park.

The goal is to complete the fundraising by the end of the year and have a Celebration of Success on Jan. 18.

Paige Kraus, Stewardship Coordinator for the hospital foundation, urged people to support the effort.

“It’s easy to raise money when you’re passionate about it and believe in the cause. It is a worthy cause we and our loved ones can all benefit from,” Kraus said. “We’re asking for your help. We know that there’s a need, and we know that all of us are going to be touched by breast cancer in some way. I think we, as a group, can do amazing things.”

Those interested in helping or donating to the Power of Pink cause may contact Paige Kraus at (620) 272-2376, or paigekraus@centura.org.

Photo by Aly McClure