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October 3rd, 2021

Pink Ribbon Society serving cancer patients across the Region

Courtesy of The Times • Written by Deborah Laverty

Linda Watterson’s oncologist told her she should be the “poster child” on the importance of getting a mammogram.

Watterson, 70, of Munster, had never had a mammogram until recently.

She is glad she did because she was diagnosed as having breast cancer and is well on her way to treatment.

“I went in for a mammogram for the first time in my life. It was just a whim as I’m getting older. They found a cancerous lump. My oncologist wants me to be the poster child for getting a mammogram. They found my lump early and it’s curable.” Watterson said.

Watterson, who is still undergoing chemotherapy three times a week at Northwest Cancer Center, turned to area agencies for assistance including the Pink Ribbon Society and the IWIN Foundation or Indiana Women In Need.

Through assistance from the Pink Ribbon Society, Watterson was able to purchase a wig which was needed due to hair loss from the chemotherapy.

The Pink Ribbon Society, founded in 2001 by Ann Peters, is dedicated to supporting the men and women in Lake, Porter and Newton counties whose lives have been touched by breast cancer.

Since its inception, the Pink Ribbon Society has made it a priority to give back to the local community through various support programs.

In addition to the wig reimbursement program, with a donation to date of $21,000 to just that program, other Pink Ribbon Society’s fund recipients include:

State of Indiana Breast and Cervical Cancer Program: This program helps fund the cost of mammograms for women who are uninsured, underinsured or do not have the means to pay for these life-saving tests.

To date, the Pink Ribbon Society has donated over $70,000 to underwrite the cost of mammograms.

Bundles of Hope: This program, established in 2010, provides each cancer patient with an embroidered fleece blanket, a reusable bag and a note of encouragement. These bags are provided for men and women through their local oncology offices.

Indiana Women in Need (IWIN): This organization helps provide prepaid services to patients going through cancer treatments. These services include childcare, housekeeping, lawn service, massage therapy, transportation costs, and much more.

Spring Spa Day: Partnering with Methodist Hospitals, PRS has co-sponsored this event for the past five years. Held on the last Saturday in April, it is an event geared towards pampering and educating breast cancer patients and survivors.

In addition to receiving help with the purchase of a wig, Watterson said she also received gift cards for gasoline through IWIN.

The gift cards help defray the cost of some of the drugs she takes, some of which can run as much as $600 even with her insurance co-pay.

“Cancer is very expensive,” Watterson said.

To date, Pink Ribbon Society has granted over $100,000 to IWIN, which is based in Indianapolis, but assists women in Lake, Porter, Jasper and Newton counties and those throughout the state, Peters said.

Indiana Women in Need (IWIN): This organization helps provide prepaid services to patients going through cancer treatments. These services include childcare, housekeeping, lawn service, massage therapy, transportation costs, and much more.

Spring Spa Day: Partnering with Methodist Hospitals, PRS has co-sponsored this event for the past five years. Held on the last Saturday in April, it is an event geared towards pampering and educating breast cancer patients and survivors.

In addition to receiving help with the purchase of a wig, Watterson said she also received gift cards for gasoline through IWIN.

The gift cards help defray the cost of some of the drugs she takes, some of which can run as much as $600 even with her insurance co-pay.

“Cancer is very expensive,” Watterson said.

To date, Pink Ribbon Society has granted over $100,000 to IWIN, which is based in Indianapolis, but assists women in Lake, Porter, Jasper and Newton counties and those throughout the state, Peters said.

“We’re very grateful to the Pink Ribbon Society for their commitment to help,” Laswell said.

Julianne Trevino, 37, of Hammond, was about 24 weeks pregnant with her now-5-month-old daughter when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I went through chemo while pregnant. It was tough,” Trevino said.

She will undergo a double mastectomy in about a month.

Trevino appreciates IWIN’s assistance in her tough time.

“They are helpful in so many ways — the gift cards but also just to talk to someone. That was really helpful,” she said.

Trevino, also the mother of a 5-year-old daughter, said the $400 gift card she received was flexible in that she could even use it to order meals delivered to her house.

“You can pick the service that best fits your needs,” Trevino said.

Laura Myszak-Wolfe, 55, of Hammond, was named Miss July 2022 in the Pink Ribbon Society Survivors’ Calendar released at the Pink Ribbon Society’s recent luncheon.

She advises those who are diagnosed with breast cancer to “surround yourself with a great support group and knowledge, and don’t quit.”

Myszak-Wolfe was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 after she noticed a lump in her breast.

“It was the middle of the night and my pajama top got stuck on something,” Myszak-Wolfe said.

She had just had a mammogram six months before which hadn’t detected any issues. But nonetheless she called her doctor and got in for another checkup the following Monday.

It was determined that she had stage 3 cancer in her right breast and stage 1 in her left.

Myszak-Wolfe said she has what is called dense breast tissue and she advises others like herself to go for a 3-D mammography or breast ultrasound.

She underwent a double mastectomy and later got implants but her implants got infected and had to be removed.

Myszak-Wolfe said she utilized services through the Pink Ribbon Society by purchasing two different wigs.

“They were nice but I ended up going bald and wrapping scarves around my head since my chemotherapy was during the winter. My hair eventually grew back,” Myszak-Wolfe said.

Margaret Ann Clark, 78, of Whiting, is a 41-year survivor of breast cancer and named Miss January 2022 on the Pink Ribbon Survivors’ Calendar.

“I’ve been very, very fortunate,” Clark said.

Clark was in her late 30s when she discovered a lump in her breast.

She saw her doctor on a Friday and had surgery on her one breast on Monday.

Thirty days later, and following a second mammogram, Clark had surgery on her other breast.

“I was just very lucky because the outlook could have been very different,” Clark said.

Clark advises doing self exams, going for annual mammograms and staying positive.

“Treatment for breast cancer has come a long way,” Clark said.

Tina Chip, who was named to the 2021 Pink Ribbon Survivors’ Calendar for the month of July, said the Pink Ribbon Society is an agency that offers opportunities for the entire community.

“To have it in our backyard (and) to help you or your neighbor is what it’s all about,” Chip said.

She said money raised at such events as the Pink Ribbon Society luncheon goes right back to the community to help others.

“We’re lending that hand. We’re right here for you,” Chip said.

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