In just three years, Saint Francis Medical Center’s effort to increase breast cancer awareness in Cape Girardeau has grown into a huge community-wide initiative. Pink Up Cape™ is a success in every sense of the word.
In 2000, the Saint Francis Foundation began working with the Southeast Missouri State University women’s volleyball team to implement the Dig for Life fundraising campaign during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Over the last 13 years, the campaign has provided more than 2,000 mammograms for women who otherwise could not afford them.
Three years ago, the Foundation began working with local businesses to step up its fundraising and awareness efforts. Businesses now purchase Pink Up Packs, which provide them with large pink banners they can hang in front of their establishments. The proceeds from the packs benefit Dig for Life, and the banners increase awareness. This year, nearly 100 businesses are participating in the effort.
“This campaign has worked because our community has been so supportive of Pink Up Cape,” says Steven C. Bjelich, FACHE-D, President and Chief Executive Officer at Saint Francis. “It is heartening to see that so many businesses care about breast cancer awareness.”
This year, schools have gotten on board as well. Several Cape schools are hosting special “Pink Out” events in October during which all proceeds from concessions benefit Dig for Life.
In addition to working with the community groups, the Foundation puts pink holiday lights on the trees in downtown Cape Girardeau and with the help of Cotner Electric and the Department of Transportation, the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge will be illuminated pink for the month of October. “For this entire month, there is pink everywhere,” says Trinka Hileman, RN, BSN, MBA, director of radiology and Womancare at Saint Francis. “There is a buzz around town — everyone is talking about Pink Up Cape.”
Saint Francis has definitely seen the results: Last year, Womancare extended its hours in October because so many women were calling to schedule mammograms.
“Breast cancer is such a curable disease if we catch it early,” says Hileman. “Every time a woman comes in for a mammogram, we have an opportunity to decrease the number of deaths from breast cancer. That is why Pink Up Cape is so important.”
For more information, call 573-331-3996.