In Idaho, cancer is the leading cause of death in women. Breast cancer specifically, is the second leading cause of death in women said Gritman Medical Center Community Relations Director Kelly O’Neill.
“In Idaho, we need to be doing a much better job about encouraging women and helping women to get in for their screening mammograms,” O’Neill said. “Because right now Idaho has one of the lowest rates in the nation, as far as women over 40 getting their mammograms.”
That’s why 12 years ago Gritman Medical Center started a program called Bosom Buddies, which provides funds to cover the cost of screening mammograms for women in Latah County– who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
O’Neill said every year, Bosom Buddies hosts Pink Tea — an annual event that raises money for the program and increases breast cancer awareness.
This year, Pink Tea will be at 3 p.m. Oct. 15, at the University Inn Best Western.
O’Neill said both Bosom Buddies and Pink Tea started because Patricia Kempthorne, former first lady of Idaho, saw there was a lack of attention given to early detections for breast cancer.
Kempthorne will be the keynote speaker for this year’s event.
The community is also supportive of the cause, O’Neill said. There will be a raffle for a sapphire pendant necklace and a Pink Tea quilt donated by longtime business sponsors Johnson’s Jewelry and Stitches & Petals.
Dawn Burns of Gritman’s Women’s Imaging Center has attended Pink Tea many times. She said it is an important source of awareness and fundraising for her work as a radiologic technologist who specializes in mammography.
“It’s overwhelming to see all of the people there for one cause and we always have really good speakers who get the word out,” Burns said. “It makes me feel good about the work that I do, working with Bosom Buddies to give women the screening mammograms they need.”
Although the event is free, reservations are required because seating is limited. There will be tables set up to accommodate 500 guests and donations are encouraged because of the close association the audience typically has with breast cancer.
“We always ask people ‘if you have had breast cancer, or currently have breast cancer, please stand up,’ and it’s frightening really to see how many women have battled or are battling it,” O’Neill said. “We also ask for people to stand up if they know someone who is dealing with breast cancer, and it’s almost always the whole room that rises to their feet.”
O’Neill said last year’s Pink Tea raised $40,000 for Bosom Buddies and 100 percent of the donations went directly to the program.
She also said the event would not be possible if it weren’t for the Latah community coming together to increase breast cancer awareness.
“We really appreciate the support of the community, of our corporate sponsors, and all of the people who work behind the scenes to make the event possible,” O’Neil said. “And the people who come are truly impacting the lives of women who are in need, and I think that’s the best part about Pink Tea.”
Reservations are filling up fast, O’Neill said, but can still be placed by calling 208-883-6018.
Amber Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org