More than just one night

9/24/2015

Bras for the Cause projects continue supporting cancer patients year-round


The door outside of Janice’s Closet reads, “To all women who enter Janice’s Closet…it is thanks to Janeen Cunningham, founder of Bras for the Cause, that this special place exists. May her commitment to your health encourage you in your fight.”

When Cunningham, local businesswoman and owner of Calico Cat, dreamed of creating a breast cancer awareness event in 2009, it was her vision to put every penny raised to work in Hunt County. Now in its seventh year, Bras for the Cause is doing that and more, having raised over $300,000 for the Hunt Regional Healthcare Foundation.

The plaque on the wall of Janice’s Closet acknowledges the years of support from Cunningham. But it is the women in need of its services who leave a lasting mark on the room. Named in honor of Janice Weldon who died in 2010 after a lifetime of volunteering and serving others, Janice's Closet is a unique room at Hunt Regional Medical Center that houses a special fitting area and provides services for women undergoing treatment for cancer.

When a woman has had a mastectomy, she faces many changes in her appearance as she battles cancer. Difficulty affording post-treatment accessories including wigs, compression garments and prostheses can greatly impact a patient’s outlook on recovery and life following a breast cancer diagnosis.

Recognizing that every woman deserves to feel good about herself during cancer treatment, Janice’s Closet was founded by the volunteers of Bras for the Cause. With a staff of certified mastectomy fitters, the room provides compression garments, wigs, mastectomy bras, prostheses, treatment gowns and more for Hunt County women in need. All items are provided free of charge to patients.

“We have made it our mission to supply Hunt County women with the recovery tools they need in a beautiful setting through the help of Bras for the Cause,” says Hunt Regional Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Alicia Wittkopf.

Unlike other fundraisers which support larger, national organizations, the money raised at Bras for the Cause is used to serve the needs of women and men battling cancer right here in Hunt County. In addition to Janice’s Closet, Bras for the Cause funds are used to assist cancer patients with lymphedema treatment at Hunt Regional Medical Center. Lymphedema treatment helps to remove the pain and swelling most commonly associated with breast cancer surgery. The National Cancer Institute calls lymphedema "one of the most poorly understood, relatively underestimated and least researched complications of cancer."

While lymphedema can be controlled, it can never be totally cured. Assisting with that control is Hunt Regional Medical Center’s Certified Lymphedema Therapist, Jennifer Killough, who serves patients through therapy sessions using a technique called manual lymph drainage (MLD) that moves lymph fluid and by fitting patients with compression garments.

According to Killough, not treating lymphedema can lead to even more problems. Currently, Hunt Regional Medical Center is the only local facility where patients can receive lymphedema treatment. However, the cost of treatment and proper garments can be overwhelming. Thanks to annual donations from Bras for the Cause, patients in need of financial assistance are eligible for the services free of charge.

Of course, breast cancer treatment is only necessary after a diagnosis is made. Research has shown that 65% of the women in Hunt County do not get a yearly mammogram. Hunt Regional Healthcare and Bras for the Cause are leading the charge to change that statistic by making it easier to get a mammogram through the Tubby Adkisson Mobile Mammography Coach. Bright and colorful and staffed with bubbly technicians to match, the mobile coach goes wherever it is asked—fairs, churches, businesses, schools and other locations—bringing state-of-the-art digital breast cancer screening to busy women on the go.

Making it easy on women who have put off their annual mammogram, the mobile coach doesn’t even require a referral by a doctor. Most insurance plans are accepted, and a $100 flat fee is available for those who choose to pay cash. Appointments for mammograms are scheduled in advance so that insurance and eligibility can be verified, however, some walk-up appointments are available. Financial resources may also be available by calling 903.408.5720. You can schedule a date at your business or location by calling 903.408.5010.

Bras for the Cause will be held Thursday, Oct. 8, when hundreds of decorated bras will be on display throughout downtown Greenville, bringing a community together for multiple great causes, including this year’s project, a UV light sterilization unit for the Lou and Jack Finney Cancer Center. To learn more about Bras for the Cause or the projects it supports, visit www.b4tcgreenville.org.

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