On Wednesday, dozens of community members and healthcare professionals gathered at Porter Regional Hospital. Together, they watched from the warmth and safety of the hospital’s lobby as a pink flag emblazoned with the words “Raise Awareness, Fight for a Cure” was hoisted in front of the hospital. Every year in October, Porter Regional Hospital hosts Blow Away Breast Cancer, a ceremony that pays tribute to Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The event offers breast cancer survivors, fighters, doctors, and patients alike to commune in the spirit of awareness. Armed with pink pinwheels, the crowd drew together to collectively “blow away” breast cancer.
“There’s not a person in this room who hasn’t been affected by breast cancer,” said Sean Dardeau, CEO of Porter Health Care System. “All of us at Porter Regional Hospital declare our commitment to blow away breast cancer during October, and all year long, for our patients, ourselves, and those in the community that we love.”
“Today is a nice opportunity for everyone to come together and remember how important it is that there are people on the other side of this battle,” said Jeffrey Quackenbush, Radiation Oncologist at Porter Regional Hospital. “These are wonderful people that we’re taking care of, and we’re caring for the people as well as the treating for the cure. It takes a village.”
This year’s fourth annual ceremony featured speaker Ann Peters, founder and President of the Pink Ribbon Society. Peters is a 41-year breast cancer survivor; she just celebrated her 75th birthday.
“In February of 1977, I was diagnosed with stage 2 metastatic breast cancer,” Peters said. “In those days, they just sent you home with a wish and a prayer. I was 33 years old, and I was ignorant about how breast cancer was going to affect me, how it was going to affect my family.”
After championing a year of chemotherapy and leaning on a friend who was undergoing her own battle with cancer, Peters claimed the title, “survivor.”
“I think that everybody who goes through something like this [has] a responsibility to pay it forward,” Peters said. “I was very lucky. For years and years, I kept thinking, ‘There’s got to be something I can do to help women who are struggling with this diagnosis.’ 17 years ago, I finally did it.”
“Prevention is still the best cure,” Peters said. “Be vigilant.”
Breast patient navigator and Oncology Patient Coordinator Peggy Banks said that she could not be prouder of the team of caregivers, oncologists, doctors, and associates at Porter Regional Hospital.
“I’m very proud of our program, and you should all be proud of your program,” Banks said. “I want to thank the worker bees. You are the ones who touch patients every day, you are the ones who make a difference. We couldn’t do this without you. The patients wouldn’t have the wonderful care if it wasn’t for you.”
Also in attendance was Mercy the therapy dog, who just received her certification from Patient Paws Positive Dog Training and was thrilled to be a part of the gathering. Mercy’s trainer, Cindy Andrysiak, was happy to be in attendance, as well.
When asked whether Mercy was one of a kind, Andrysiak responded, “They’re all one of a kind!” and gave Mercy a good scratch behind the ears.
The ceremony ended with a moving musical performance sung by newly certified mammogram technologist, Courtney Trevino, RT (R)(CT)(M).
The most important takeaway of the day?
“Get your mammogram,” Banks answered. “Early detection saves lives.”