Thursday, September 10, 2020

2020 Francine's Friends "Lunch with Friends" Event Cancelled

The 2020 Francine's Friends "Lunch with Friends" virtual event has been cancelled.
When it comes to breast cancer, the best protection is early detection. The mission of Francine’s Friends is to make early detection of breast cancer available to every woman in surrounding areas by providing convenient and private 15-minute screenings to women over the age of 35, whether insured or uninsured. This mission is achieved through the Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography coach. 
Now more than ever, we’re so grateful for the community that has supported, volunteered, celebrated, and advocated for the Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography coach throughout the years. At a time when everything feels uncertain, we find comfort and encouragement knowing that you care about this mission as much as we do.
To ensure the safety and well-being of our volunteers, participants, and community members, and to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, all Parkview Foundation events – including the annual Lunch with Friends – have been cancelled.

For questions or more information:  
Contact: Heather Leas
Phone: (260) 266-7796
You may support the mission of Francine's Friends by making a donation.
We apologize for any inconvenience but appreciate your understanding that your safety is our first priority. We wish you and your family health, safety, and happiness. Generosity heals!

Friday, March 13, 2020

COVID-19 Update

JUNE 1, 2020 UPDATE 

In an effort to protect you and our staff and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the following safety precautions including screenings and temperature checks will be in place and no one other than the patient will be allowed in the coach. The schedule will allow extra time between patients to conduct additional cleaning of the coach and equipment, and patients will be required to wear a mask and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Appointments are definitely preferred and may be made by calling 260-483-1847 or 1-800-727-8439, ext. 68120. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments will take priority.

View the current coach schedule HERE.

Mark Your Calendar and Save the Date for the 16th Annual "Lunch with FRIENDS"!

Calling all FRIENDS — time to mark your calendar and gather all of YOUR friends for the 16th annual “Lunch with Friends”. A community favorite, this year’s luncheon will be held Thursday, October 22, 2020 at the Mirro Center for Research & Innovation, 10622 Parkview Plaza Drive, Fort Wayne, IN.

“Screening mammography continues to save lives and through the Francine’s Friends mobile mammography program, women in northeast Indiana can be proactive in their breast health,” explained Marita Dwight-Smith, executive director. “This is a vital community resource and the funds raised each year at our annual 'Lunch with Friends' makes a huge difference in how many women we reach and how we reach them, regardless of any barriers.”

The 15th Annual “Lunch with Friends” raised $109,478 to support the early detection of breast cancer through screening mammography. Read more about last year's event HERE.

2020 sponsorship opportunities are currently available — CLICK HERE to learn more.

Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography helps provide community-supported funding to make state-of-the-art 3D screening mammography available to ALL women in Fort Wayne and the surrounding counties, regardless of their ability to pay due to lack of insurance or transportation.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Francines Friends a 2020 Recipient of IBCAT Grant

Francine’s Friends is again a recipient of a grant for breast cancer screening from the Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness Trust, Inc. (IBCAT).

In 2019 alone, IBCAT granted $445,000 to 30 organizations dedicated to screening mammography and diagnostic programs. Services are available in nearly every Indiana county. In addition to screening/diagnostic services, IBCAT also funds Support Services grants for patients currently battling breast cancer. For assistance, visit to find the program that is closest to you.

“Not only does this grant help in the detection and prevention of breast cancer, it’s imperative to the overall well-being of those who might otherwise not have access to screenings. IBCAT helps us fund screenings in Adams, Allen, Dekalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties in northeast Indiana,” reminded Francine’s Friends director Marita Dwight-Smith. "We are so grateful for this support and for the difference IBCAT is helping to make in the lives of our patients and their loved ones,” she concluded.

IBCAT receives funds through sales of breast cancer awareness special group recognition (SGR) license plates.  Indiana residents may purchase an Indiana breast cancer awareness special group recognition license plate by visiting any Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch,  online at, or on a Connect kiosk for an annual $40 fee, $25 of which is a direct tax-­deductible donation. The plate may be purchased for display on passenger motor vehicles, motorcycles, trucks with a declared gross weight of not more than 11,000 pounds, and  recreational vehicles.

For more information on the Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness Trust and the programs it funds, please visit or call 866.724.2228.

Purchase your HOPE plate today!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

3D Mammography Now Available on Francine’s Friends Mammography Coach!

3D mammography is a revolutionary new screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection, and it now is the screening tool used on the Francine’s Friends mobile mammography coach.

As someone who has specialized in mammography since 1989, with a degree in radiology and management, Marita Dwight-Smith, BAM, RT(R)(M) ARRT, is excited to bring the latest 3D technology to women in the Fort Wayne community and the surrounding area.

"With conventional digital mammography, the radiologist is viewing all the complexities of the breast tissue in one flat image. Sometimes breast tissue can overlap, giving the illusion of normal breast tissue looking like an abnormal area,” explains Dwight-Smith, current director of the Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography Program.

"By looking at the breast tissue in one-millimeter slices, the radiologist can provide a more confident assessment. In this way, 3D mammography finds cancers missed with conventional 2D mammography, which is why we are so excited to have it available on the mobile mammography coach,” she continued.

During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple breast images. Then, a computer produces a 3D image of the breast tissue in one-millimeter slices, providing greater visibility for the radiologist to see breast detail in a way never before possible because they can scroll through images of the entire breast — like pages of a book.

“The additional 3D images make it possible for a radiologist to gain a better understanding of the breast tissue during screening and the confidence to reduce the need for follow-up imaging,” said Dwight-Smith.

A mammogram is still the best form of protection and the only medical imaging screening test proven to reduce breast cancer deaths.  Early detection is the best weapon in the fight against cancer and finding breast cancer in its earliest stages increases the survival rate to an astounding 95%!

Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography helps provide community-supported funding to make screening mammography available to ALL women, regardless of their ability to pay due to lack of insurance or transportation.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Kroger Presents “Fight Cancer Day” Donations

The 41st annual Kroger “Fight Cancer Day” demonstrated, again, the generosity of people who live in northeastern Indiana. Todd Graham, district manager for Kroger in this part of the state, presented checks to the American Cancer Society, Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana and Francine’s Friends.

“Supporting these organizations is another way we at Kroger say thank you to our customers,” said Graham. “We know dealing with cancer is a daily struggle for many families in the area. We are proud to help the agencies that provide care and comfort to the patients and their families.” 

In the four decades of this campaign, Kroger and the people of northeastern Indiana have combined to donate more than $5 million to fight cancer. This year, customers donated $14,673 during the month of October. Kroger contributed an additional $30,000, producing a total of $44,673 for this year’s Fight Cancer Day campaign. Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography received $11,272 to support its mission to provide screening mobile mammography to all women in northeast Indiana who otherwise might not have access due to lack of insurance, funds, transportation or other barriers.

“We could not provide screening mammograms to those uninsured without the support of community friends such as Kroger,” said Marita Dwight-Smith of Francine’s Friends. “Kroger’s continuous donation support provides many mammograms to those who would not otherwise be able to afford them. We are so grateful and appreciative to Kroger and the community for such generosity and caring.”

The Kroger family of companies has been serving communities large and small for more than 135 years.  Kroger’s Central Division operates food stores, pharmacies and fuel centers primarily in Indiana and Illinois.  Kroger is dedicated to Kroger’s Purpose: to Feed the Human Spirit™ and create #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025.

Friday, November 1, 2019

15th Annual "Lunch with Friends"

Nearly 450 women (and men) attended the 15th annual “Lunch with Friends” at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum Convention Center to help raise funds to support the mission of Francine’s Friends — which is to ensure ALL women in northeast Indiana are able to have screening mammography on the Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography coach, regardless of any barriers.

Linda Jackson, Evening Anchor of Fort Wayne’s NBC and long-time FRIEND, was back on stage as the high energy emcee of the luncheon, sharing stories of FRIENDS, celebrating survivors, capturing moments for social media, and sharing her amazing self.

After the Rev. Dr. William Curry, Chaplain, Parkview Health, offered the invocation, the Heartland Sings instrumental combo, under the direction of pianist and maestro Bob Nance, provided luncheon music before Rebecca Nelson, Lead Genetic Counselor, Parkview Health, took the stage and reminded everyone “Fear You Don’t Own ME!” and then encouraged the audience to sing along to the final verse.

Jackson then welcomed Marita Dwight-Smith, director of Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography Program, to the stage. Marita shared a heartfelt message in the form of a “letter to Francine” — paying tribute to Francine’s Friends namesake Francine Shubert, who survived two cancer diagnoses before losing her battle in 2002.  “I have so much to tell you,” shared Dwight-Smith. “You wouldn’t believe what happened — something extraordinary has taken place in your honor.  A group of your dear friends got together and wanted to do something impactful in your memory.  Something that would serve thousands and change and save lives. Who knew even 15 years later, your legacy would still carry on stronger than ever through a mobile mammography program in Allen County and the surrounding area that goes to where women are and serves those in need by providing all women in the Fort Wayne area the opportunity to have a screening mammogram regardless of any barriers or their ability to pay.”

Dwight-Smith continued to “update” Francine with acknowledgement of this year’s community partners, event sponsors, bosom buddies, table captains, third-party supporters, local pink-outs, donors and survivors.  “Today at our “Lunch with Friends” I thank you, Francine, as we celebrate survivors, each other, our community, moving forward, beauty out of tragedy, being bold, inspiring others, releasing fears, empowerment, authenticity, and having courage — all things I know embodied what you believed in too. Know that there is great love for you here!” Dwight-Smith concluded.

Dwight-Smith also revealed exciting news — in early October, 3D mammography was installed on the Francine’s Friends mobile mammography coach — a revolutionary new screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection!

Next, Jackson introduced keynote speaker Donna Packnett, breast cancer survivor, and champion of cancer patients and fellow cancer survivors.  Packnett shared the ups and downs of her journey from cancer patient to cancer survivor, the importance of the support of her family and friends, and how together, as a family, the Packnetts continue to stay active serving alongside those making strides for cancer, being advocates, and creating opportunity for Fort Wayne and the surrounding communities.

DJ Breast Cancer/Podcaster Tina Conrad; Stefani Yudasz, NP,  Advanced Practice Provider, Parkview Physicians Group; and Rebecca Nelson, MS, CGC, Lead Genetic Counselor, Parkview Health took the stage next for a roundtable discussion about breast cancer as the survivor and the daughter of one, breast health and high risk considerations for breast cancer development, and identifying and managing hereditary cancer risks.

Jackson then shared a video clip of her recent “photo bomb” experience during a live remote with the mobile mammography coach out in the community — which then transformed into a LIVE flash mob!  With the help of Heartland Sings performers and a few “in-the-know” table captains strategically placed here and there, the room exploded into “I Will Survive” — much to the delight and surprise of the rest of the audience.

Jackson closed the luncheon by reminding everyone: “Together, through YOUR collective generosity, the coach will now take 3D mammography out into Fort Wayne and the surrounding communities – to businesses, clinics, health fairs, community and rural sites in 11 counties in northeast Indiana – and even more women will be able to take care of this potentially life-saving screening at their place of work, on their lunch hour, before they pick up the kids from school, between errands or while they’re spending a Saturday in the park at a community event.”

At year 15, Francine’s Friends has funded 16,387 mammograms and screened over 45,000 women (since June 2019) who are insured, under-insured, or have no insurance.

Donations may still be made to Francine's Friends to help provide early detection screenings. The average cost of a 3D mammogram is $180. Checks should be made payable to “Francine’s Friends, Inc.” and mailed to: Francine’s Friends, Inc., c/o Parkview Foundation 10622 Parkview Plaza Drive, Fort Wayne, IN 46845.

Click here to view the Facebook photo album from this year’s “Lunch With Friends”