Doctors keep saying the key to stopping breast cancer is early detection.
IRMC Healthcare Foundation Love of Life is trying to do just that.
The 18th annual campaign officially kicked off Thursday night at Christine Toretti’s home. This was the first in-person event since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Known for raising funds to purchase the latest technology available to diagnose and treat breast cancer for IRMC’s Women’s Imaging Center, Love of Life plans to use the dollars raised to purchase a 3-D mammogram machine for North Cumbria, which IRMC officials said is in “short supply medical care”.
The device will be the same as those already purchased and in use at IRMC’s Women’s Imaging Center and IRMC in Chestnut Ridge.
According to hospital officials, the Love of Life campaign made IRMC not only a nationally accredited program for mammology centers, but also a comprehensive mammology center in partnership with UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh.
“This means patients can receive all of their care right here at home — from diagnosis, surgery, treatment, support groups, Birdie’s Closet and survivors,” said Heather S. Reed, executive director of the Indiana Health Care Foundation. “These tremendous advances in health care are truly only possible because of the contributions of the community that IRMC serves.”
Past campaigns have helped IRMC purchase, in addition to two three-dimensional mammograms, a breast MRI, an intraoperative specimen visualizer and the Magseed device, which helps remove breast tumors, Reed said.
The keynote speaker at the event was Lynn Botella, Ph.D., director of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She also suffered from breast cancer, which she spoke about during her address to the crowd at the Toretti House.
“I have the cancer gene and I’m glad to know I have it,” she said. “Honestly, I’m glad I’m alive. When people ask me why I’m glad to know I have the cancer gene, I tell them, “I don’t want cancer to sneak past me.” I have a really great life and I want it to continue.”
Batello praised IRMC’s Women’s Imaging Center, nurses and doctors for their work in detecting and ultimately treating her breast cancer, adding that Indiana is fortunate to have such a facility.
“Indiana has incredible talent and impressive resources,” she said. “I’m alive because of them.”
Other speakers were Toretti and Drs. Dan and Margaret Clark and thoracic surgeon Dr. Naznin Bilimoria.
Levity Brewing Co. was ready to introduce its annual Love of Life beer, Pink Grapefruit Pilsner. All beer sales at Levity will benefit Love of Life.
Love for Life will host its annual 5K Run/Walk and One Mile Fun Walk at 9 a.m. Oct. 15 in central Indiana. The race will also have the option of virtual participation, as was the case during the peak of the pandemic. Runners and walkers can register for the event at www.loveoflife5k.com. The deadline for registration and race shirt guarantee is September 28.
To donate to the Love for Life campaign or for more information about the 5K Run/Walk, contact the IRMC Healthcare Foundation office at (724) 357-8053 or donate online at www.irmc.org/foundation/ways-to-give.
“Every woman over the age of 40 should have an annual screening mammogram,” Reed said. “No doctor’s order is required, and if you don’t have insurance or can’t afford to pay for a mammogram, there is funding.”