Focus on prevention |

Focus on prevention

Bust of Steamboat raises funds for breast exams, awareness

Margaret Hair

Keep A breast of the Issues by Julia Patterson

Carol Ginsberg, like almost everyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, did not think this could happen to her.

Until April 2006, she knew little about the disease and what support services were available to the women who have fought it in the Yampa Valley. After undergoing a double mastectomy, breast cancer and all of its trials are familiar to Ginsberg.

“You always say, ‘Well, that’s going to happen to someone else and not me,'” she said about her diagnosis. “They tell you, and you look around and say, ‘Who are they talking to? They’re certainly not talking to me.'”

During her treatments and recovery, Ginsberg was able to get massages, paid for by the Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project. The organization will host its signature fundraiser, the seventh annual Bust of Steamboat, from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Three Peaks Grill. Focusing on prevention, detection and support services, the awareness project provided some needed reinforcement for Ginsberg after her diagnosis came through, she said.

“It’s such a shock when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer to begin with,” she said. “There was somebody there to say, ‘Go, take care of the things you need to do. We’re here for you.'”

Focusing on detection

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On Thursday, the breast cancer awareness project presented a $15,000 check to the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley to go toward the purchase of a digital imaging mammography machine.

“Our whole point is prevention, and that’s why we’re paying for the screenings beforehand,” said Deb Curd, who founded the awareness project in 2000 and started the Bust of Steamboat the next year. Jan Fritz, a founding committee member for the project and the director of cancer services at Yampa Valley Medical Center, said the organization makes a point of encouraging and supporting annual exams for all women, including those who are uninsured or underinsured.

“If your deductible is $5,000, many people choose not to do the mammogram, thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to have to pay full price,'” Fritz said. “We pay for those underinsured and uninsured; and believe me, there are more and more of those people.”

With funds raised at the 2007 Bust of Steamboat, the breast cancer awareness project paid for six annual wellness exams; 59 mammograms and ultrasounds; $4,000 in COBRA payments; and $28,000 to offset treatment travel costs. Fritz said the organization also has assisted with utility bills and rent for women undergoing treatment, bought wigs for women who have lost their hair to radiation therapy, helped pay for medicine and provided gifts valued at $500 each to women who were in treatment last year.

“About the only thing we can’t help with is surgery costs, but we try to find ways to get them all of the resources that they can,” Fritz said.

Raise funds, or bust

Curd and other event organizers give few guidelines to artists contributing to the Bust of Steamboat. Of the 20 busts that will be up for silent auction – attendees are asked to contribute $1 bills to cast votes for the best bust – there are some made as oil paintings, jewelry, furniture, clothing and ceramics.

“They get to pick whatever medium they want, as long as they put a bust in it,” Curd said.

Gil Lang, who has contributed a bust each year and has used Labrador retrievers, bats and stringed instruments as themes, said the event brings awareness to the various challenges women face when they are diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When they first started, there was a history of cancer in the family, and I just wanted to make people aware of it,” Lang said about his artistic contributions to the event. “I think that it’s a great service to the community. : For people who don’t have health insurance, that’s a great way for them to stay on top of this situation.”

Ginsberg, who now is cancer-free, said the breast cancer awareness project’s efforts give cancer patients some momentary relief from the distress of a highly emotional condition.

“Women, their breasts are part of who they are. It’s not like it’s someplace in your body. It’s your breast, and you lose your breast, and it’s very emotional,” she said. In spite of its challenges, Ginsberg said fighting cancer has made her more aware of her health.

“As I’ve heard lots of other women say, I’m a better person for it,” she said. “I’m more aware of my body, and I’m more aware of what I need to do to stay healthy.”