It’s been one heck of a year for Donna Grainger and the East Kootenay Foundation for Health – actually it’s only been 11 months.
Grainger, executive director, and the EKFH launched the A Clear View campaign for a new digital stereotactic mammography machine just 11 short months ago, and the foundation was ecstatic to announce they have completed their goal.
That’s right, the East Kootenay has banded together to raise $1 million in less than a year.
“We’re lucky where we live,” Grainger said.
The original timeline for the A Clear View campaign was two years. Grainger said they started by compiling compelling stories of breast cancer survival and launching them to the public. The foundation had no idea how many people they would resonate with and inspire to bring in a donation.
As of August, Grainger said they have 800 names of people who have donated. The campaign kicked off with a massive donation of $250,000 from the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary. That donation was special and a great one to begin with: it was donated as a legacy gift by of Ethel Zentner, a breast cancer survivor.
This week the campaign was capped off by another huge donation – $100,000 from the Lake Windermere District Lions Club to bring the tally to $1 million.
“The Auxiliary started it, the Lions finished it and in the middle there were so many,” Grainger said.
While the larger donations were wonderful to receive, Grainger said the 798 people in between kept the momentum going.
“It’s all about the accumulation,” she said.
Grainger remembers people seeing the A Clear View sign at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital and dropping by the EKFH office with $5 or even just coins – whatever they had. She also remembers incredible stories of survival told in her office beyond those from the six campaign faces. Events were planned, people organized campaigns in memory of a loved one and many new friends were made in the process.
“I’m so honoured that I met so many great people,” Grainger said.
All of the contributions worked out to be the largest campaign ever tackled by the EKFH. For Grainger, the campaign was an incredible journey.
“Probably one of the highlights of my working career is this campaign,” she said.
Everything about the A Clear View campaign has been quick so far, and Grainger said that will continue. The EKFH is already meeting with its partners to start the process to get the equipment in Cranbrook as soon as possible. She estimates it will take from 120 to 160 days.
“We see a fairly quick turn around time for the stereotactic equipment,” Grainger said.
With such an incredible achievement, Grainger said there’s reason to celebrate. The EKFH will be holding a public celebration to welcome the new equipment into Cranbrook. More information on that event will be available once the equipment is secured.
“We’re definitely going to have a celebration,” Grainger said.
At the Cranbrook Regional Hospital right now, an 11-year-old film mammography machine serves patients. The new digital stereotactic mammography machine would shorten wait lists, as the images are available within 10 seconds, and limit exposure for women. The greatest bonus of the new equipment would be that the stereotactic biopsy could be done on site – which means no more travel for breast cancer patients, a quicker recovery and no time spent in the hospital. The machine would make a much smaller incision compared to the current technology, which means less scarring and deformities.
Grainger said there are expected to be 2,500 screenings in the next fiscal year, and the equipment will allow woman in the Kootenays to stay right at home for them. Women will be able to hear their diagnosis at home, rather than dealing with the stress of travel and an unfamiliar hospital team. Grainger notes that the equipment will also benefit men, as two per cent of men are also diagnosed with breast cancer.
Any donations received above the $1 million goal will be put into trust for the Diagnostic Imaging – Mammography fund to help purchase additional supplies needed after the digital stereotactic mammography equipment arrives in Cranbrook.