Every October, America goes pink to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month
By Dr. “Jimmy” Orr, Medical Director for Florida Gynecologic and the Regional Cancer
The statistics are upsetting to read: one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. In 2019, an estimated 268,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in U.S. women. More than 3.1 million American women are either being treated for breast cancer or have completed treatments.
We are well aware of breast cancer’s impact on women and their families.
That’s why at the Lee Health, we’ve turned October into HOPETOBER, a month dedicated to giving hope to breast cancer patients. Rather than solely continuing to educate our community about the dangers of breast cancer, we encourage and provide an opportunity to support local women impacted by the disease.
In 2017, the Lee Health Foundation created the Sharon MacDonald Breast Health Fund after the trustees of the John E. & Aliese Price Foundation issued a $100,000 community challenge gift to honor Sharon MacDonald, the retired chief administrative officer of Lee Health’s Regional Cancer Center.
Foundation president and CEO Dr. Kenneth Walker lost his first wife to cancer. In 2001, he was diagnosed with colon cancer, and in 2016, his daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“There are many people in our area who cannot afford lifesaving services,” he said. “We encourage friends, colleagues and all who have benefitted from Lee Health and the Regional Cancer Center to contribute to this fund.”
Through the fund, Lee Health at the Regional Cancer Center is able to treat breast cancer patients who cannot afford to pay for medical services, thus ensuring they can still receive the lifesaving cancer care they need.
Administered by the Lee Health Foundation, 100 percent of donations to the Sharon MacDonald Breast Health Fund go toward underwriting costs of diagnostics, radiation, medication and other services needed to promote successful outcomes for Southwest Florida patients battling breast cancer. The contributions stay at “home.”
That’s how the Sharon MacDonald Breast Health Fund differs from other breast cancer organizations and fundraising campaigns. Since the Sharon MacDonald Breast Health Fund was established in May 2017, generous donors have contributed more than $290K in funding that’s helped provide treatments and services to 41 women and men. All 41 are Southwest Florida residents.
HOPETOBER offers a chance to help people like Christy Cantrell, who was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 43. She sought treatment at the Regional Cancer Center, one of the largest cancer centers in Florida, and had a team of highly trained oncologists, surgeons, nurses, physical therapists, nutritionists and other members of the medical team with her every step of the way. Christy’s advice was poignant: “Let people help you, stay positive and make every day count.”
Every Southwest Florida resident knows someone who either was diagnosed with breast cancer or is actively undergoing treatment. They need your support, and by donating to the Sharon MacDonald Breast Health Fund, you can be assured that your contribution will stay right here in Southwest Florida.
For more information or to donate, please call the Lee Health Foundation at 239-214-0898 or visit LeeHealthFoundation.org/donate.
About the Author
Dr. “Jimmy” Orr, Medical Director for Florida Gynecologic and the Regional Cancer is currently a Clinical Professor at the Florida State School of Medicine. Orr’s expertise in preoperative and postoperative care, reconstructive, radical and ultra-radical surgery is a product of years of intensive surgical training, continued review of scientific literature, teaching and participation in clinical research.