Central Texas Medical Center has launched its annual Think Pink initiative, a series of breast cancer awareness events hosted throughout October.
Think Pink is a collaborative community event series intended to maximize the support of breast cancer awareness organizations in Hays County, said Margie Lieck, director of women’s services at CTMC.
The partnership was formed five years ago after officials of local health organizations realized they were scheduling breast cancer awareness events on the same dates, making it impossible for people to attend them all, Lieck said.
“The partnership helped lead to coordinated, efficient event planning so that these events support each other rather than compete with one another,” Lieck said.
CTMC gives out 100 free mammograms to socially disadvantaged women, she said. The procedures are partially funded by Susan G. Komen, a national breast health organization.
“Many women are unable to get mammograms because they have to work through clinic opening hours,” Lieck said. “So the CTMC Women’s Center for Breast Health has expanded its hours.”
Pink Hearts Savings, a Think Pink fundraiser, will donate a percentage of the money raised through the purchase of local business gift cards to CTMC, Lieck said. She said it’s important to keep the effort local.
“Oftentimes, when people give money to United Way or other large nationwide health centers, donors see very little of the money affect people they know,” Lieck said. “But these events stay in the county, so the money stays in our area, where we can see and measure the benefits.”
A portion of the funds raised do not go into paying for cancer treatment, but into additional financial support for patients, Lieck said.
“Some cancer patients spend up to $7,000 a month on treatment alone, so they require extra money to be able to pay their rent and feed their families,” Lieck said. “Our fundraising gives patients a little extra money to live on.”
Bras for a Cause, a premier event held annually in Comal County—just south of San Marcos—donated $57,000 last year to help patients in need. Thirty-eight patients were able to receive financial support from the money that came from that event alone, Lieck said.
“There’s nothing more meaningful than people out there seeing what the project does for people they know personally,” Lieck said. “When we started the project, we were only seeing four to six patients a day, but after hiring a navigator who started going out into the community, we now serve double the amount of patients per day.”
To contribute to the cause, Texas State is hosting Be The Match, a benefit concert to be held in Sewell Park Nov. 20, said Ronnie Lozano, program chair of the university’s radiation therapy program and acting sponsor for the event.
The event is primarily focused on spreading awareness and will offer information on a number of different cancers and how to detect and avoid them.
Attendees will also have an opportunity to enter the nationwide cancer registry in order to facilitate future bone marrow donation, said Samuel Hillhouse, Be the Match representative and Texas State alumni.
For patients with blood cancers or severe blood disorders like leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anemia, the only foreseeable shot at a cure is bone marrow donation, Hillhouse said.
“You could be called on to donate bone marrow three months after registering, or 30 years after registering,” Hillhouse said.
The program hosts a marrow registry drive on campus every spring. These drives are typically some of largest in nation. Last year’s event signed over 1,500 students into the registry, with over 20 Texas State students going on to donate to a patient, Hillhouse said. However, the program has never held a benefit concert before.
“I joined the registry in 2008, and was told in 2011 that I was a match for a leukemia patient,” Hillhouse said. “A year after I donated, I was told the patient was cancer-free, and I got to meet her. A woman in Chicago is alive today because I took 10 minutes out of my day to get registered.”