Friday, December 7, 2018

Third Party Events in October Select Francine's Friends as Charity of Choice

In October, Summit Plastic Surgery and Sky Zone Fort Wayne held events to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month and selected Francine's Friends Mobile Mammography as their charity of choice.
Both events raised monies to help provide screening mammography for women in our community and also helped create awareness of the importance of early detection. Official check presentations took place in late November and early December. This is the second year both organizations have held events in October and raised funds for Francine's Friends. Thank you Summit Plastic Surgery and Sky Zone Fort Wayne!

“Thank you for coming out and showing your community support by playing in or donating to “Fight Like a Girl!” - our co-ed dodgeball tournament! A percentage of the proceeds from the tournament and t-shirt sales for the event in October totaling $750 were donated locally in honor of breast cancer awareness month to Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography to help fund screening mammograms. Sky Zone is excited to support the mission and values of your organization!”
- Carrie, Aysha and the staff of Sky Zone Fort Wayne 

"Thank you for the incredible support from our clients and the community - you helped raise over $3,100 for breast cancer! Funds raised continue to help Francine’s Friends provide mammograms to the women in the greater Fort Wayne area. Thank you to all those who helped make our event a tremendous success for breast cancer awareness.” 
- Dr. Matthew Shambaugh, Dr. Reid Pflueger, and the staff of Summit Plastic Surgery 

Friday, October 19, 2018

2018 14th Annual "LUNCH with FRIENDS"

Nearly 500 women (and men) attended the 14th annual “Lunch with Friends” at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum 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, encouraging the crowd to take selfies and celebrate 1,000 iikes on Facebook, while helping to trend #FrancinesFriends on social media.

Survivor, and “conqueror” Tamyra Kelly offered the invocation and then Rebecca Nelson, Lead Genetic Counselor, Parkview Health, took the podium to share her connection with Francine’s Friends before performing “At the Beginning” from Anastasia while guests enjoyed lunch. Jackson returned to thank this year’s sponsors for their partnership and community support. This year’s event luncheon sponsors included Kroger, Radiation Oncology Associations, Steel Dynamics, Briner, Vera Bradley, Physicians Health Plan, OmniSource, Emley Design Group, and Glo Magazine.  2018 Corporate Tables included BAE Systems, Breast Diagnostic Center, Lake City Bank, MedPro, Parkview Cancer Institute, and PNC Bank. Also acknowledged was this year’s  “Bosom Buddies for Life” — an annual sustaining circle of women who donate $1,000 each year to Francine’s Friends. 2018 Bosom Buddies include Ann Bobilya, Carol Busses, Sharon Eisbart, Glynda Harris, Debbie Hirschfield, Ari Rifkin, Judy Rifkin, Chris Rupp, Debbie Swinford, Kathy Summers, and Irene Walters. More than a quarter of a million dollars have been raised to support screening mammography and the Francine’s Friends mission through this giving circle!

Jackson then welcomed Marita Dwight-Smith, director of Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography Program, to the stage for her remarks. Marita asked the former Francine’s Friends board members to join her for a special presentation. “Without their vision and hard work, this program would not be possible,” Dwight-Smith explained. “You all have been mentors to me and I am beyond grateful. Thank you for your trust in me with my new role,” she concluded. Each board member was presented with a warm hug and a limited edition print of this year’s program cover and notecard artwork “Untitled” — created by local artist Terry Ratliff. According to Ratliff, the original artwork represents “downtown Fort Wayne and the impact and role the Francine’s Friends mobile mammography coach has had in the past, and will continue to have in the future.”

Dwight-Smith also acknowledged and thanked two key community partners — Parkview Cancer Institute and Breast Diagnostic Center — for their dedication to the mission and continuous support of the mobile mammography program. “We simply could not do this without you,” Dwight-Smith emphasized.

Every year, third party fundraisers are held and portions of funds raised are donated to Francine’s Friends. Dwight-Smith next brought Toni Metzger and representatives from The Moonshine Cowboys on stage to thank them for the “Ride for the Cause” event, which started in 2013 in memory of Toni’s sister. This year’s “Ride for the Cause” raised $24,122 for Francine’s Friends and the behind-the-scenes video that was shown demonstrated why this is such a popular event for so many.

Jackson then returned to the stage to introduce this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Linda Han, Breast Care Team Director of the Parkview Cancer Institute. Dr. Han’s presentation was both educational and inspiring, and the crowd loved her warmth, intellect, and message of hope to both newly diagnosed women as well as survivors and thrivers.

The luncheon closed with Conqueror Tamyra Kelly retuning to the stage to thank Francine’s Friends for “saving her life” and turning her into a champion for the importance of early detection and screening mammography. Then Linda Jackson and Marita Dwight-Smith closed the event by reminding everyone of why the group was together: “Through YOUR continued generosity, the mobile mammography coach will go out into Fort Wayne and the surrounding communities — to businesses, clinics, health fairs, community sites and rural sites in 11 counties in northeast Indiana — for screenings YOU make possible, and even MORE women will learn that 15 minutes can save a life,” Jackson concluded.

Since its inception, Francine’s Friends has funded 15,612 mammograms and screened almost 44,000 women to date (June 2018) 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 mammogram is $140. Checks should be made payable to Francine’s Friends and mailed to

Click here to view the Moonshine Cowboys Video from this year’s “Lunch With Friends”

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

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Meet Dr. Linda Han - Keynote Speaker for the 2018 “Lunch with Friends”!

Linda K. Han, MD, FACS, Director, Breast Care Team, Parkview Cancer Institute earned a medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine and completed her residency in general surgery at The Ohio State University. She is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. She has expertise in breast ultrasound and received her certification with commendations in breast ultrasound by the American Society of Breast Surgeons.

Additionally, Dr. Han holds several professional memberships, including: American Society of Breast Surgeons, Society of Surgical Oncology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and Indiana State Medical Association. Prior to her arrival to Parkview Cancer Institute, Dr. Han served as Chief
of Breast Surgical Oncology and Professor of Clinical Surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine and Director of Breast Surgical Oncology at Indiana University Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. While there, she established a breast cancer survivorship program, recognized nationally as best practice by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.

She has received numerous recognitions for excellence in resident education and was awarded Mentor of the Year by the American Medical Women Association. She currently serves as the Director of Breast Oncology at Parkview Cancer Institute in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

What attracted you to Parkview?
“Parkview’s vision to develop a regional referral center for comprehensive multidisciplinary oncology care and the opportunity to develop an outstanding breast oncology program. The level of commitment to achieve that goal by recruiting highly qualified cancer specialists who are experts in their field and the emphasis for patient-centered care was a strong factor in my decision to be a part of this exciting new program.”

What services are you providing?
“Through our dedicated breast program, we see patients who have any breast-related concerns, whether it is cancer or simply a concern of cancer risk. Not only do we provide comprehensive personalized treatment plans for breast cancer, we also provide education, counseling and prevention
strategies for women at high risk for breast cancer. So, we offer risk assessment, including genetic counseling for potential mutations that could increase risk of cancer. For patients diagnosed with breast cancer, we perform advanced breast preservation surgery to not only remove tumors but
also reshape the breast for a more aesthetic appearance. Our program also offers opportunity to participate in cutting edge clinical trials, many that include treatment that would not be otherwise available. Each patient’s case is discussed and reviewed in our multidisciplinary tumor board to develop a personalized treatment plan appropriate for that patient. Our nurse navigators are crucial in the role of patient-centered care and are an integral part of the breast cancer care team to improve the experience and outcomes for our patients.”

Dr. Han is the keynote speaker for the upcoming 14th Annual "Lunch With Friends" on Oct. 12, 2018 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.  Contact Marita Dwight-Smith for more information by phone at 260.266.6216 (office) or 260.249.0154 (cell) or by email at

Friday, August 31, 2018

Reception in the Garden Celebrates Friends!

A “Reception in the Garden” was recently held at the new Parkview Cancer Institute. 2018 table captains, sponsor representatives and other “Friends” mingled in the beautiful second floor atrium space before Marita Dwight-Smith, director, Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography, officially welcomed and thanked those in attendance for their support of the upcoming 14th annual “Lunch with Friends” in October.  “Your generosity and support will help women in northeast Indiana receive life-saving mammography screenings,” said Dwight-Smith.  “We need your help so we are able to continue to provide the screenings for women in our community.”

Linda Han, MD, Breast Surgeon, Parkview Cancer Institute, and keynote speaker for the Oct. 12 event, talked about patient-centered care at Parkview Cancer Institute, a unique multidisciplinary approach of really caring about the patient and caring for the patient. Han explained that the goal is to provide the greatest level of service, from prevention, screening and education, to diagnosing, staging, treatment, follow-up and survivorship.

Stefani Yudasz, DNP, Breast Care Team, Parkview Cancer Institute, spoke about the high risk clinic program and the role genetic counseling plays in high risk assessment.

After reminding table captains to fill their tables and of reservation deadlines, Dwight-Smith invited guests to tour the new facility.

The 14th annual “Lunch with Friends” fundraiser will be held on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Convention Center. Keynote speaker is Linda Han, MD, Breast Surgeon, Parkview Cancer Institute. 2018 event sponsors are Kroger, Radiation Oncology Associates, P. C., Steel Dynanics, Inc., Briner, Vera Bradley, PHP, OmniSource, Glo magazine, and Emley Design Group. Registration is at 11 a.m. and the program begins at 11:30 a.m.

For more information on individual luncheon tickets, tables of 10 “Friends” or corporate tables, please contact Marita Dwight-Smith, director, Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography at 260.249.0154 or

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

14th Annual "Lunch with Friends"!


Please mark your calendar and plan to attend the 14th annual “Lunch with Friends"! 

For information on sponsorship opportunities or on becoming a table captain or bosom buddy, please contact Marita Dwight-Smith, Director of Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography

Office:   260.266.6216   
Cell:   260.249.0154

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Save These 2018 Dates!

Mark your calendars and save these dates for opportunities on how you can help Francine’s Friends raise funds and support mammograms for every woman and early detection - the BEST protection! 

Thank you to our terrific third-party partners for creating and sponsoring this wonderful events!
May 17, 2018 
Tri Kappa DeKalb County Pink Out 2018
Schedule your mammogram on the coach — appointments available from 1:00 p.m. to 8 p.m. To schedule a mammogram, call 260-483-1847 or 1-800-727-8439, ext. 68120
For more event information:

August 4, 2018 
Moonshine Cowboys 6th Annual Ride 4 a Cause in conjunction with Brandt’s Harley Davidson

For more event information:
Wabash, Indiana 

August 18, 2018
Todd Alber 7th Annual Memorial Golf Outing

Noble Hawk Golf Links, Kendallville
For more event information:

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Letter To Our Friends

Marita and Sharon at 2013 "Lunch with Friends"
Dear Friends,
After Francine Shubert lost her battle with breast cancer in 2002, several of her friends set out to honor her spirit and drive in a way that provided lifesaving services to women who may not otherwise receive them. Our vision became a reality in 2005 when Francine’s Friends was established and our Mobile Mammography coach went out on the road for the very first time.

Now, after more than 13 years, Francine’s Friends continues to make a difference in the lives of women in our area, providing screening mammography to those who might not have access due to lack of insurance, funds, transportation or other barriers. Never in our wildest imagination did our small group of “friends” think we would grow to include so many other FRIENDS — and create an all-volunteer board and an expanded event committee who have faithfully served and successfully hosted 13 “Lunch with Friends”.

Francine’s Friends is grateful for and relies on two key community partners. Parkview Health provides funding for diagnostic testing if required for uninsured and underinsured who are screened on the coach as well as operational support. The Breast Diagnostic Center (BDC) provides radiologic technologists to staff the coach, the coach drivers, board certified, dedicated breast imaging mammography radiologists who provide the mammography readings, and maintains the equipment.

Our true success lies in the countless donors and sponsoring organizations in our community — our founding partners, our annual table captains, our bosom buddies, our event sponsors, and our third-party fundraisers — through which we have been able to meet our mission and grow our reach.

We are now happy to share plans that will allow our vision to continue and grow in new ways. After serving since the inception of Francine’s Friends, I will be retiring and am stepping down from the volunteer role of board president. Thanks to our ongoing partnership with Parkview Health, an executive director has been hired to fulfill the responsibilities of leading the mission of the program. Marita Dwight-Smith, former Director of the Breast Diagnostic Center and Francine’s Friends board member, will serve in this executive director role.

It has been a wonderful privilege to serve as the Board President of Francine’s Friends. As an all-volunteer organization, the board and its friends have accomplished tremendous things through funding of mammograms and affording many women in Allen and the surrounding counties with their first screening mammogram. We now look forward to seeing our passion and vision continued through Parkview’s support and Marita’s leadership, knowing this important program is in very capable hands.

With gratitude,
Sharon Simmons

Contact information for Marita Dwight-Smith:
Marita Dwight-Smith, BAM, RT(R)(M) ARRT
Director of Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography
11109 Parkview Plaza Drive | Fort Wayne, IN | 46845
Office: 260.266.6216
Cell: 260.249.0154

Monday, February 12, 2018

Francine’s Friends Receives $12,500 from Kroger 2017 Fight Cancer Day

Kroger presented checks for proceeds of its 2017 “Fight Cancer Day” campaign in February 2018. The announcement was made prior to the official ribbon cutting and re-opening of the recently remodeled Kroger store in New Haven, Indiana.  Kroger representative and longtime “FRIEND” Chris Gomez (pictured center) presented the official check to Francine’s Friends Donna Emley (pictured left) and Sharon Simmons (pictured right) in February.

The 2017 campaign raised $76,359 to fight cancer and support cancer patients in northeast Indiana.  Kroger customers were invited to contribute to three cancer organizations — the American Cancer Society, Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana and Francine’s Friends — during the October 2017 month-long campaign. The campaign involved 15 local Kroger stores and honored local “superheroes” for being a survivor or dedicated to the fight against cancer.

The Kroger Central Division and local representatives officially kicked off the 39th annual Fight Cancer Day initiative at the Kroger Marketplace on Dupont Road in October 2017. “Fight Cancer Day" was started by Scott’s Foods in 1979 and the fund-raising event continued following the purchase of Scott’s from SuperValu by Kroger in 2007. Thank you KROGER!