Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Thank you to those who have generously donated to Francine's Friends Mobile Mammography

Your gift makes a difference in the lives of women in our community by providing screening mammograms to those who might not have access due to the lack of insurance, funds, transportation, or other barriers.

Since its inception in 2005, the mobile mammography coach has screened more than 48,500 women, visited more than 3,300 unique business, and funded more than 16,800 mammograms. Thank you again for your support of Francine's Friends patients, their families, and your community. Your generosity heals!

If you have not done so, please join us in the fight against breast cancer by making a donation today. Through your generosity, the coach can continue to bring 3D mammography to area businesses, organizations, health fairs, and other sites across northeast Indiana. YOU will make it possible for even more women to receive this life-saving service.  

Donate today

Monday, November 2, 2020

More Than Just A Pretty Plate...

Since 2002, over $5.5 million has been distributed by the Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness Trust (IBCAT) through competitively awarded grants to organizations throughout Indiana for innovative projects for breast cancer screening. 

Francine’s Friends mobile mammography coach is a recipient of this grant funding.

IBCAT grants are funded through the Indiana breast cancer license plate and other donations, allowing them to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars each
year for breast cancer screening, diagnostic, and support programs throughout Indiana.

Click here to learn more!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Friend to Friend...

Good Afternoon FRIENDS — 

As we kick off the Francine’s Friends virtual campaign, I wanted to reach out to you to tell you that the coach has been busier than ever in recent months and has found ways to adapt during the COVID pandemic.  While we had to shut down due to safety in April and May, we were back doing screenings six days a week as of June 1st.  Despite having to cancel this year’s lunch with friends, we can still come together to support this amazing program that has helped thousands of women over the last 15 years receive a lifesaving screening.
On a personal note, I can share that it was seven years ago that my friend Barb A’Hearn invited me to my first Francine’s Friends Luncheon. What was ironic was that exactly a year later on October 21st, 2014, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer.  In just a year, what was deemed as dense tissue at last year’s mammogram, had become cancerous. With two siblings having had cancer at age 20 and at age 45, I was hit especially hard by the diagnosis. Together, with friends, I would get through it. Barb was there at my appointments knowing from experience as a two time breast cancer survivor that I would need an advocate and a friend by my side. She agreed to go with me to doctor’s appointments, share her experiences and even stayed with me for an additional surgery which she insisted no one but  Dr. “I-pod” perform.  Through four rounds of chemo and four surgeries to follow, I would find that inner strength to keep fighting and would now enter post treatment life.  I both loved and hated my new very short hair, and would now focus on preventing a reoccurrence and reflecting on the lessons learned during this journey.
What I can share is that friends are what gets us through breast cancer. Since my diagnosis, I have had four close friends be diagnosed at various stages. My friend Ann, who was told she had no risk, at age 45 would end up being diagnosed in stage 2. Over the last three years she would have eight reconstructive surgeries. I was there for each one of them because that is what girlfriends do.  While we struggle to understand why one in eight of us will be diagnosed, all I know is that we all play it forward by sharing information and helping guide the way for friends with so many questions.  What I learned from Barb, I passed on to friends like Ann.  Together, we made life better for each other and together, those of us who find it important to advocate for others, will make a lifesaving impact on women who need mammograms, but face barriers to receiving their annual screening.

How can you help support Francine’s Friends this year as you have in the past? 

Use the Parkview Foundation peer to peer fundraising link:
Use your Facebook page using this link and create your own fundraiser to share with your friends.  https://justgiving.com/campaign/FrancinesFriends2020
Share this link with your circle of influence and show your support:   
Campaign Updates:
Last week, the first of three emails sharing the impact of the coach went out. This week’s email will share the courageous story of Vicki Torres so look for that on Thursday. All emails will not only share the impact, but provide an opportunity to give through a donate button.
Join us!
Marita Dwight Smith, Executive Director of Francine's Friends, will be hosting a Zoom call on October 29th at 6 p.m. so that we can connect with this long-time group of friends and hear how COVID has impacted screenings region wide. 

If you would like to join us, please email me and let me know and I will send you the link.
Looking forward to connecting with each of you. 

 Cheers to FRIENDS!

Denise Andorfer
Director of Leadership Gifts
Parkview Cancer Institute
10622 Parkview Plaza Drive | Fort Wayne, IN | 46845
Office: 11050 Parkview Circle Drive I Fort Wayne, IN I 46845
Office (260) 266-6618 | Cell (260) 450-5214 | Fax (260) 266-7799

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Breast Cancer Awareness Month


It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month and what better way to celebrate than to share the important work of Francine’s Friends mobile mammography coach! Although we are not able to come together this year during the annual Francine’s Friends Lunch with Friends event, it is important that we share the mission of Francine’s Friends and the need 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. Donations in support of Francine’s Friends provide women in northeast Indiana with:


This October we are honoring and remembering a very special survivor - Cathy Fitzgerald. As a astute business woman, philanthropic community leader, and life-long learner, mentor, volunteer, Cathy dedicated her 40-plus-year career and personal life to making herself better, her community better, and making an impact on everyone she knew.

Cathy was one of the initial all-volunteer board members in 2005 when a group of friends came together to form Francine’s Friends. Like Francine, her indefatigable approach to living was an inspiration and once she committed to supporting a community event, there was never any doubt of its success. Cathy was a board member for Francine’s Friends until 2017, serving on the governance committee and events committee.

As a survivor herself, Cathy shared her perspective as a celebrated survivor and featured model at the annual October Lunch with Friends fundraiser in 2013. Cathy was diagnosed in 2003 with stage 3 breast cancer; and then again in 2017. On January 25, 2020, Cathy’s 60th birthday, Fort Wayne Mayor Thomas C. Henry proclaimed the day as Cathy Fitzgerald Day. Cathy lost her battle with breast cancer on March 19, 2020.


Watch past sessions by clicking the titles below:

Your donation is vital to the continued success of the mobile mammography coach. A gift of $170 will provide a mammogram to a woman in need. Even if you are unable to make a gift of this amount, your donation will allow us to provide the necessary screenings and continue to save lives through early detection of breast cancer.
Your generosity heals!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Support Through Diagnosis and Survivorship

Early detection and access to state-of-the-art cancer treatments are both key components of preventing and defeating breast cancer. When caught early, it can be much easier to effectively and successfully treat. Vicki Torres is someone who understands and has experienced this firsthand.

For 15 years, Vicki has been regularly receiving her annual mammograms, but not in the way you might think. Vicki has only ever received her mammograms through Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography Unit, a service supported by donors to the Parkview Foundations. The mobile mammography unit is unique in that it provides life-saving services to women in Fort Wayne and the surrounding areas who might otherwise be unable to receive them. The mobile unit travels to parking lots of local organizations and businesses to promote early detection of breast cancer, making mammography screenings more accessible to all women.

Vicki candidly shared that she tends to be forgetful and a bit of a procrastinator, which is why she appreciates her friend and co-worker, Janice Buuck, taking the time each year to place flyers and sign-up sheets at work. Janice’s selfless actions help remind co-workers to get their yearly mammograms through the mobile mammography unit. “When I see the pink coach pull in the parking lot, I know it’s time for my mammogram,” Vicki said.

After signing up for her annual screening, Vicki went for her mammogram in November 2019, which was her first 3D mammogram. The state-of-the-art 3D mammography equipment had recently been added to the mobile unit, thanks to the generosity of donors to the Parkview Foundations. Shortly after her appointment, Vicki received a phone call saying the radiologist saw “something” they did not like and would need to get a biopsy and come back for a follow-up.

Her biopsy revealed an unexpected result. She was in the early stages of breast cancer. Vicki was informed she had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in her left breast and surgery was the best option to remove the cancer. Giving it some thought, she decided to proceed and schedule the lumpectomy. With the holidays right around the corner, Vicki moved forward, scheduling appointments with her oncologist, Melanie Clark, MD, Breast Medical Oncologist, Parkview Cancer Institute, and surgeon, Lauren Kopicky, DO, Breast Surgical Oncology, Parkview Cancer Institute. Even with her world turned upside down, Vicki still made it her goal to finalize her Christmas shopping and have the wrapping done before her surgery, demonstrating her constant care and concern for others.

She prayed throughout her diagnosis and as she waited for the results from her surgery. On Christmas Eve, Dr. Clark called to say her breast cancer was now a stage 0. After having reconstructive surgery with Kevin Berning, MD, PPG – Plastic Surgery, Vicki spoke to the radiologist and was advised to have genomic testing, which looks for mutations in the make-up of a person’s genes and can help assess their risk of cancer.

Her results were more than she could have expected. Vicki was informed she would no longer need the 16 treatments of radiation that had initially been planned and thanks to her early detection, and regular mammograms, the chances of her cancer coming back were very small.

Thanking God and fighting through tears, Vicki rejoiced that her post-surgical results were the best Christmas present she could have ever received. “I am so deeply thankful for the staff there at Parkview. The people have been amazing. The doctors have been amazing,” Vicki said with appreciation. “It was such an incredible experience having to go through cancer with people like that alongside you. People that don’t pretend to care, but actually care. I have met so many amazing people along this journey.”

Paying it forward

It was after her cancer diagnosis and surgery that the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic hit. Like so many others, this affected Vicki financially. In May of 2020, she selflessly volunteered to be furloughed to avoid a layoff of her co-workers. While receiving news of an illness and facing the financial unknowns of a steady paycheck, Vicki remained steadfast in her faith that God is walking with her through it all.

During the furlough, she has been assisting her cousin by driving him to his chemotherapy treatments at the Parkview Cancer Institute for the last seven weeks. She knows first-hand how it can affect patients and feels guilty for not having to endure the treatment herself after her own diagnosis. Something not many people can truly understand.

Giving gratitude and thanks

Cancer has reared its ugly head one too many times in Vicki’s life. Aside from her battle, Vicki has also witnessed her brother’s battle with colorectal cancer 13 years ago and watched her father lose his fight to cancer in 2015. Breast cancer was never a part of the family history prior to Vicki, but she considers it a blessing to be able to help and comfort others battling the disease. She was excited to say that her cousin recently rang the bell at Parkview Cancer Institute, signifying his final treatment.

“Had it not been for the yearly reminder and that pink coach coming out here every year, I don’t know that I would be where I am today in my survival story,” Vicki said.

Women like Vicki are pillars of hope, inspiring many, and acting as a reminder for all women to get their yearly mammograms and take control of their overall health. She’s a survivor and credits the Parkview Health team, Francine’s Friends and her friend and fellow survivor, Janice, for playing a large role in her diagnosis and survivorship. In hopes of paying it forward, Janice and Vicki continue to regularly attend survivor walks, supporting one another through their post-cancer journeys and those just beginning, or currently in theirs.

Staggering statistics

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer ranks second among cancer deaths in women. BreastCancer.org also states that more than an estimated 276,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer and over 48,500 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States in 2020 alone. With cancer numbers on the rise, your generosity is needed now more than ever. To make a difference in the lives of women like Vicki, you can donate in support to Francine’s Friends at Parkview.com/SupportFrancinesFriends or call 260-266-7800.

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
Email: heather.leas@parkview.com
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 www.breastcancerplate.org 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 https://www.in.gov/bmv/, 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 www.breastcancerplate.org 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.