When Chris Cannon was 22, his mother, Jeanne Lytle Cannon, lost her battle against breast cancer. She was only 51.
To honor his mom’s legacy, Chris and his wife, Cara Lynn, have dedicated numerous philanthropic efforts to fighting cancer. Recently, they have committed a matching gift of $250,000 to support the purchase of a second mobile mammography unit for the Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health.
The Cannons’ contribution was announced during last month’s Uplifting Event, Spartanburg Regional Foundation’s annual luncheon to raise money to support expanded access to mammography screening for women in need. The luncheon, held at the Spartanburg Marriott, featured inspiring stories from survivors and netted more than $110,000 to be put toward the mobile mammography program.
The Foundation’s fundraising efforts for the additional mobile mammography unit are ongoing. All donations made before the end of 2018, up to $250,000, will be matched by the Cannons’ gift.
The mobile mammography program helped people like Kathy Day. She worked in food services with Spartanburg County School District 2, which partners with the Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health to host screenings each year.
“I used the mobile mammography unit for years,” Day said. “It always came to one of our school campuses.”
School nurses helped staff members to schedule exams, making it convenient for teachers and others to be screened without having to miss significant work time, Day said. Mobile mammography also enables women who lack reliable transportation or who live in remote communities to access screening.
It was after her exam in 2014 at one of Spartanburg District 2’s schools that Day received a call from the breast center that her mammography revealed “something suspicious.” Further tests confirmed that she had stage one breast cancer.
“It was pretty devastating,” she said.
But the fact that her cancer was diagnosed early gave Day the best possible chance of survival. She underwent surgery and 28 straight days of radiation treatment. It wasn’t easy, but the aggressive treatment yielded good results.
“I’m four years out,” she said. “And so far, so good.”
Day is one of many women in our community who have benefited from the mobile mammography program, which serves 3,500 to 4,000 patients annually. Adding a second mobile unit will bring mammography screening to additional workplaces, churches, and other community-based locations, making screening accessible and convenient for more women in need.
This is especially important in rural and poor communities, where women have historically lacked access to screening. For example, the South Carolina Cancer Alliance, which studies trends in cancer diagnoses and mortality, has identified Cherokee and Union counties as areas where breast cancer rates are high and greater support for screening and early detection is needed.
Plans call for the new unit to be outfitted with the latest technology, including 3-D tomosynthesis. This digital mammography reduces the frequency of false positive reports that require follow-up visits and enables caregivers to detect more invasive cancers. The additional mobile unit will cost an estimated $800,000.
Expanding the mobile mammography program can make a difference in these counties and other underserved communities, said Jay Bearden, MD, hematology-oncologist with Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute.
“It will help us to reach a lot of people who are not in close proximity to a screening center,” he said.
For her part, Day is grateful for the mobile mammography program, and she hopes donors will support the purchase of a second mobile unit.
“I think it truly can save lives,” Day said.
Miles for Mobile Mammography
To help raise money for the second mobile unit, the Bearden-Josey Women's Cycling Team is sponsoring a ride on at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Holston Creek Park, located at 7561 New Cut Road in Inman. Riders can choose from distances of 25 miles or 45 miles. If road biking is not to your liking, you can come out and mountain bike on the park trail or walk. A $20 donation is requested with all money going toward the mobile mammography unit. Those registering in advance are eligible for a drawing for a free ticket for the 2019 Assault on Mt. Mitchell. For more info on the ride, visit freewheelers.info.
To learn more about the Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health mobile mammography program or to donate to support funding for an additional mobile unit, please visit RegionalFoundation.com or call 864-560-6727.