Hospital Trust and Hough Memorial raise funds for digital mammography unit

The Cariboo Foundation Hospital Trust and the Hough Memorial Cancer Society are throwing their collective resources together to purchase a new digital mammography unit for Cariboo Memorial Hospital.

The Cariboo Foundation Hospital Trust and the Hough Memorial Cancer Society are throwing their collective resources together to purchase a new digital mammography unit for Cariboo Memorial Hospital.

“It’s a big project and we have been talking about working together on it for a while so that we can get the equipment quicker,” says hospital trust co-chair Rick Nelson.

“We’re just excited about this partnership,” says Hough Memorial president Bob Macintosh. “We think it is the way to go. It will do a lot for the community and I think partnerships work well.”

Nelson says the high-tech digital mammography unit will cost $1 million, $600,000 of which the community will need to raise.

So far Nelson says the hospital trust has raised $150,000 toward the purchase.

“So we are on our way,” Nelson says. “We are also hoping that some of the other local groups will consider us as their target for fundraising. All of the money raised by both of our groups stays in the community to purchase equipment for Cariboo Memorial Hospital.”

Hough Memorial is starting afresh with its fundraising efforts for the digital mammography unit, having recently completed fundraising for a new scope and will begin discussing fundraising ideas in the fall, Macintosh says.

Nelson says there are currently only three high tech digital mammography units in B.C.

“It would be a real coo to have one here. We would be the fourth community to have one.”

Hough Memorial vice-president Jim Fraser says he was astounded to learn there are only three digital mammography units in B.C. and, given the large size of the Cariboo Chilcotin region, there should be one at CMH.

“It’s a big dollar but how much is one woman’s life worth?” Fraser asks. “We service a heck of a big area. Women here deserve the opportunity to have early detection.”

Nelson says 1,650 screening mammography scans and 750 diagnostic mammography scans were done for women in this area during 2010.

One of the advantages of having the digital mammography unit here will be that screening and diagnostic scans can be done at the same time, Nelson says.

The images produced by the digital scanner are also clearer, have greater detail, a larger picture and are faster than the current equipment, he says.

He says the digital scans also provide a better quality scan for younger women, whose breast tissue is denser than that of older women.

Since the scanner is digital he says the images can be easily sent to larger centres such as Kamloops and Kelowna for analysis.

“Having a better quality mammography scanner here will save lives,” Nelson says. “There are real advantages to having the machinery here for people. There will be no travel costs and no waiting times.”

Fraser adds: “The new digital mammography machines can pick up a cancer the size of a pin point.”

Nelson says the hospital trust’s next big fundraiser for the digital mammography machine will be a formal Christmas dinner and auction gala to be held Nov. 26 in the gymnasium at Thompson Rivers University.

The event will include a gourmet meal, dancing to the band March Hare, silent and dream auctions, as well as an early bird draw prize.

He says the tickets to the gala held last year at the Elks Hall sold out early with a waiting list so they are holding this year’s event in the TRU gym, which can hold more people. There will be 260 tickets available for the gala this year.

Tickets are $80 each and available by calling Joy Hennig at 250-398-0101 at RE/MAX or Tammy Tugnum at 250-392-7185 at Cariboo GM.

Nelson says the hospital trust is also seeking sponsors to help with costs of staging the fundraiser. For example, community groups and individuals can make donations to help with costs such as $650 for hall rental, $300 for insurance, $800 for coffee and dessert, $2,000 for wine; and 260 meals at approximately $40 each.

Donations of items for the silent and dream auctions are also needed.