2017 Spirit of Pink
Spirit of Pink Re-cap video Photo Slideshow
Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital held its 7th annual Spirit of Pink breast cancer awareness event on October 12 at the DuBourg Centre.
Dr. Theresa Cavins, breast and general surgeon, welcomed the crowd of about 115.
“When I first started my practice here, we were doing less than 1,000 mammograms a year,” she said. “We project that this year we will do over 4,000. We know that mammograms save lives and early detection saves lives. At Metis Breast center we really focus on early detection and even more than that we’d like to prevent cancer altogether.”
Dr. Cavins went on to describe the many services that comprise the breast center, including 3D mammography, ultrasound, MRI, minimally invasive breast biopsies on site by Dr. Cavins as well as breast reconstruction augmentation and reduction. Cavins was excited to announce that the Metis Breast Center will soon have an onsite radiologist.
“I’m very honored to be in a small community and have a state of the art comprehensive breast center,” Dr. Cavins said. But we’d really like to work ourselves out of a job, and one of the ways that we try to do that is by finding genes that may cause breast cancer.”
That was a cue for Mary Crecelius to give a brief description of the genetic testing offered at Metis.
“Only 10% of breast cancer is related to a genetic mutation, but It’s pretty amazing. “If we can find a genetic mutation in the family and identify the people who have it, then we can take strategies to prevent cancer.”
Mary said the hospital has seen a huge increase in the number of people who come in and meet criteria for genetic testing.
“There have to be some red flags like cancer in the family before age 50, cancer that has shown up in multiple generations, or rare cancers. We’ll take a look at your family history. If you don’t know if you’re a candidate for genetic testing, you can come and see us. We can figure that out for you.”
Ste. Genevieve artist Ali Cavanaugh, the evenings guest speaker, took advantage of genetic testing and discovered she carried a cancer gene. She chronicled her health journey starting in 2009 when she painted a series of portraits of Millie Naeger, a young cancer patient at the time.
“When I painted those paintings, there was a thought that crossed my mind, that I was opening a door to cancer,” she said. “After the Millie show we found out we were pregnant with our 3rd child and in my ninth month my husband found out he had cancer.”
A tough time for Ali with her husband’s cancer, a new baby coming and a new art show due a few months later.
“I believe in the power of prayer,” she said. “I just remember so many people praying for us. We made it through that time and two years later we had our 4th child, 17 years between our oldest and our youngest.”
It was at this time that Ali met with Dr. Cavins to discuss breast reduction and genetic testing.
“My dad’s sister was dying of stage 4 ovarian cancer and she had had breast cancer when she was my age,” she explained. “I tested positive for the cancer gene, so I knew the reality of cancer. I thought I’m not even going to mess around here. Let’s just get it taken care of. I had breast mastectomies and a full hysterectomy at Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital. It was an amazing experience. It was all positive. I just can’t imagine those of you who have not only had the surgery, but have had to undergo chemo as well. You are a warrior.”
Ali had advice for participants who are dealing with someone with cancer.
“First of all, pray for them. Secondly, be generous to the people who are going through this. Maybe a gift card to a restaurant. And thirdly, listen. Sometimes you just want someone to listen to you and not give advice. Just visit with them and help them pass the time, and maybe get their mind off the situation.”
Ali had high praise for SGCMH.
“We are so blessed in this community to have this center and the fine doctors and nurses,” she said. “I’ve seen Dr. Sharlow here a couple of times; I went through my surgeries here; I had two of my children here; my husband had his cancer treatment here; and I even had my daughter move here when she was pregnant, so she could have her baby here. I am such a believer of our hospital. You truly feel like you are being taken care of by family.”
What has become a tradition at the Spirit of Pink, cancer survivors, of which there were many in the audience, were recognized and given a special gift.
New this year was the bra hat competition. That’s right—hats made from bras! 1st place went to Patti Carron from Bloomsdale; 2nd place to Barb Aurich from Perryville; and 3rd place went to Janet Carron from Bloomsdale.
Participants spent the remainder of the evening playing casino-type games with play money.
“A lot of people know someone who has battled or is battling breast cancer,” said Tina Poston, Director of Marketing and Community Relations. “This is part of the reason why we hold this event. It's an evening to have fun, but also to take care of women and their health.”