Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 16, 2018

‘Early detection saves lives’

First-annual breast cancer awareness style expo raises money, mammogram awareness
By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News | Oct 25, 2017
Photo by: Grace King Mike Byrum, Heather Leichty’s father, auctioned off one of the items during Dress Your Life with Style Expo. He was nominated to come  show off his auctioneer skills when Leichty bragged on him that he was the one who taught her auctioneering.

Polished is not the atmosphere that the women hosting the first-annual Main Street for Mammograms Dress Your Life with Style Expo were going for. Intimate and relaxed better describes the mood as the two-dozen some women got real about early breast cancer detection and raised money for the Henry County Mammography Fund to help women in need receive mammograms.

Main Street for Mammograms was a ticketed event on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at Your Dream Home Furniture and Floors. Kicking-off the night, Heidi Riepe emceed the fashion show as people munched on food provided by area restaurants. Jocelyn Steenblock, Carolyn Byrum and Heather Leichty strutted their stuff in front, walking past the tables, overstuffed chairs and couches.

Between each model, Riepe displayed a couple different bras created and decorated by Main Street businesses to put in their windows for breast cancer awareness during the month of October.

Donning one made out of two work gloves sewn together, someone from the audience shouted, “Those are hanging low, Heidi.”

Riepe laughed, sarcastically saying, “What a calm evening at Home Furniture, where everyone was full of class and elegance …”

Next up to model, Leichty, owner of Home Furniture, sauntered out of the backroom wearing a poncho and a couple long necklaces. “We can try to do it like the runway models,” she said, as she attempted to flip the poncho over her shoulder, getting tangled up in the necklaces as she did so.

After the fashion show, Main Street Director Lisa Oetken drew several raffles. Tickets were available to purchase earlier in the evening. With such a small crowd, the women of the Mt. Pleasant Chamber of Commerce kept getting their tickets drawn and waving off the prizes, offering them to other guests.

Prizes out of the way, Oetken opened up the live auction. Not before Deb Steenblock, Henry County Health Center (HCHC) mammography quality control coordinator, stood up to talk about the necessity of mammograms and how much The Mammography Fund means to those who otherwise can’t afford them.

The Mammography Fund was started about seven years ago when the Henry County Mammography Department partnered with a gas station in town to help raise money for mammograms for women whose insurance didn’t cover the cost. Since then, they have worked to raise awareness about early detection and help women through this hyper-emotional cancer through financial assistance.

“We know it’s emotional, every cancer is, but breast cancer has the highest emotion attached to it because what defines us as women is how we physically look,” Steenblock said. “We can’t say we prevent breast cancer, but we can increase the survival rate through early detection.”

Steenblock talked about the 3-D mammography technology HCHC has, which was purchased a year ago in September. Unlike the 2-D mammograms, which takes only four images, the 3-D mammograms take 225 to 325 images, creating “a movie” that better detects the smallest breast cancer possible, Steenblock explained.

Steenblock said that by 40-years-old, every woman should be getting regular breast exams once a year. “It’s 40 seconds of time. Well worth it,” she said.

“It’s my favorite doctor to go to because they don’t weigh me,” Executive Vice President at the Chamber Kristi Ray said to a chorus of laughter.

Before continuing into the auction, Leichty stood up and gave her cancer story. Having gone to get a mammogram in March, Leichty said that because of her family history, her doctor suggested an MRI.

“I want to tell you, do what your doctor says,” Leichty said, tearing up. “I’ve watched my mom go through (breast cancer) twice.”

Employee at Home Furniture, Penny Rauenvuehler, jumped up and went to hug Leichty. “Do an MRI (if your doctor suggests it) because it saved her,” Rauenvuehler said.

Leichty was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer. It was in the duct, but it had not yet spread. When she went in for surgery, the doctors found they had removed the entire 0.4-centimeter tumor during the biopsy.

“Because of early detection, that’s all I’ve had to do — surgery,” Leichty said. “Early detection saves lives.”

Clearing her throat, Leichty said, “Get your pocket books out ladies,” and transitioned into auctioneering, impressing everyone with her auction chant.

As she rambled off in rhythmic monotone, she stopped. “You, you have to bid,” she said. “Hold up your money ‘til it’s all gone. That’s how you do a charity auction,” and without skipping a beat jumped right back into auctioneering.

Wrapping up the auction, guests were invited to look around Home Furniture store room and enjoy the rest of the food. At the end of the night, Oetken said she thought they had raised enough money for one mammogram, which is about $400.

For a first-time event, Oetken said it’s hard to get the word out, but she hopes to continue this annually and continue to raise money for The Mammography Fund.

Donations for The Mammography Fund are still being accepted and can be dropped off at the Mt. Pleasant Chamber Alliance.

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