Funds raised during the 11th annual Pharmasave Radiothon for Healthcare gave a significant boost to the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation’s Close to the Heart digital mammography campaign.
The 15-hour live broadcast from the atrium of the Cypress Regional Hospital in Swift Current on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 raised a total of $155,832.
This money will help the Healthcare Foundation to reach the Close to the Heart campaign goal to purchase a new digital mammography unit with improved technology for the Cypress Regional Hospital.
Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Clay Thompson was thankful for the support of the community in southwest Saskatchewan during the Radiothon.
“We came into today not knowing really what to expect,” he said. “There’s been some tough times in the Saskatchewan’s economy over the last year and certainly 2019 has been a really tough year in agriculture, oil patch and a lot of the drivers in our neighbourhood. So you come into something like this a little apprehensive, but people are people and they just love to help.”
He felt the outcome of the Radiothon was a clear demonstration of the willingness of people to support the campaign.
“Some of our gifts were a little smaller than what they may have been in the past, but I think we got quite a few more gifts than we’ve had in previous years,” he said. “Maybe a little smaller, but more of them. So it all works out to the same place at the end.”
Various businesses came to the hospital atrium during the Radiothon to make cheque presentations, and Thompson said the business community was very supportive, because it is a way for them to give back to the community.
“Business community is really, really good to us, and I think business owners are taking the opportunity to give back to the people that support them,” he noted.
The Close to the Heart campaign started in June and the kick-off breakfast raised over $30,000. The campaign needs to raise $350,000 for a new mammography unit.
“So we’ve got some funds that we gathered from June until today that are there and then with what we’ve gathered at Radiothon, we’re about two-thirds of the way toward our goal,” he said.
The Healthcare Foundation will continue fundraising efforts to reach the campaign goal and they always have an end-of-year giving campaign.
“We’ll encourage people to participate in that,” he said. “It’s sort of, do you want to pay income tax or make a contribution to health care, and that always goes very well for us.”
The stories from breast cancer survivors have been a significant part of the Close to the Heart campaign since its launch.
“It's been incredible, right from the breakfast back in June,” he said. “The ladies came in and talked about their journey with breast cancer, and we had one, two and three stories there and they’re all a little bit different, but all the same message. Because of early detection, we’re standing here able to talk to you today. And that's what we’ve been trying to do since the first of June, is make sure that there’s more of those ladies that are able to stand and talk to us tomorrow.”
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in Canada. One in eight women and one in 25 men in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Thompson made a calculation, based on these rates of breast cancer, that about 4,500 people in the former Cypress Health Region area might be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during their lives.
“We have an opportunity today and until we’re done here, the opportunity to make sure that those people are there to talk to us at the end of their journey,” he said. “I just think that if we can continue to encourage people to participate, the new equipment will be here and there’s going to be a whole lot of happy endings at the end of the day.”
Early diagnosis can make a crucial difference to the successful treatment of this deadly disease, and the improved technology of the new digital mammography unit will help with early detection of breast cancer. He said the difference between the current mammography unit at the Cypress Regional Hospital and the new unit will be similar to watching a program on a regular television screen compared to the latest high definition screen.
“That’s what essentially 10 years worth of technology does to that type of equipment,” he mentioned. “Imagine some healthcare provider looking for breast cancer on one picture and on the other picture. Which one is going to be clearer? Which one is going to give them the best opportunity to find it as early as possible? I think it’s a no-brainer. It’s time for the technology to change. We have care providers who are doing their absolute darndest to do what they can to find breast cancer early. We’ve got to give them the tools that will allow them to do that.”
Donations to the Close to the Heart campaign can still be made through the Healthcare Foundation’s website at www.drirwinfoundation.com