POMEROY — If you had opened the doors Oct. 16 to the Meigs County Common Pleas Court, you would’ve found yourself immersed in a room of pink with delectable smells of chili and hot dogs tickling your nose.
The sights and sounds were part of Pink Friday Cook for a Cure, which was conducted to raise money for the Meigs County Breast Cancer Initiative. The event included a costume and chili contest.
The winners of the chili contest were Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood and Tate Werry, respectively. The winner of the single costume contest was Patty Eblin, with Donna Boyd and Penny Elam winning the duo costume contest.
The event, which is in its first year, came together when Sammi Mugrage, court reporter, said she wanted to do something at the office in order to raise money for breast cancer awareness. Together, she and Kimberly Dewees, of the Law Office of Trenton J. Cleland, came up with the idea of a food contest with costumes.
According to Mugrage, the event raised $500 in less than two hours.
“I would like to thank everyone who took time out of their personal lives to help make Cook for a Cure such a huge success,” Mugrage said. “Whether you dressed in pink, donated food or money, or just stopped by to support the cause, it was greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to making it bigger and better next year.”
Meigs County’s breast cancer program, Pink with Purpose (formerly Think Pink), is part of the Meigs County Cancer Initiative. The organization is funded by Susan G. Komen of Columbus.
The program is run by Heidi Rittenour, registered nurse and breast health specialist, and Carolyn Grueser, breast screening coordinator, who’s been with the program since its inception 10 years ago.
The organization provides baseline screenings for women in Meigs County starting at age 35. The screenings are for anyone who is underinsured, or has huge deductibles, or is 300 percent of the poverty line. Rittenour said that most people in Meigs County will qualify for treatment, which is also available for men, as breast cancer can be contracted by them as well.
“Once people started getting the Affordable Care Act, they didn’t think they’d be eligible, but because of higher deductibles they most likely are,” Rittenour said. “For example, a single mom with two kids who makes at $59,370 a year would still be covered for free.”
For anyone who qualifies, Pink With Purpose can also provide free gas vouchers. Anyone can pick up the vouchers once they make an appointment at the Pink With Purpose office, located at 117 E. Memorial Drive in Pomeroy.
Grueser also acts as a patient navigator, and if anyone who gets in contact with Pink with Purpose either doesn’t qualify or needs further treatment, Grueser will refer them to other programs that can assist them.
Pink with Purpose also organizes and pays for follow-up appointments for anyone who has been told by doctors that they need one, and pays for any ultrasounds needed as well. While Pink with Purpose can’t pay for biopsies or surgeries, they refer the patient to places that can.
“We’re really trying desperately to reach more women and let women know this is available, because we don’t think women know this is available,” she said.
Pink with Purpose also assists with a mammography van from The Ohio State University that visits Meigs County at different times of the year. Holzer and Ohio University conduct a Women’s Health Day, which provides free health screenings in a private area in a travel van. Once a woman is tested privately, Grueser will receive the results and call the women to let them know. Grueser said that typically a follow-up appointment will be made.
“Don’t be afraid,” she said. Typically a follow-up appointment will be made so that the data from the first test can be compared to new data, Grueser said.
The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program also makes an appearance at both events.
“We’re trying really hard to educate and prevent fears of women who are nervous about mammograms,” Rittenour said. “The majority who get (breast cancer) don’t have a family history of it (which is general myth), so we’re just trying to educate and make (aid) as accessible as possible for anybody planning (to be tested). We’re making it as easy as we can so everybody just has to show up to screenings. And if someone doesn’t have gas, we’ll take care of it for the mammograms.”
She said that the best way for early detection and breast health is to know your body and your breasts so you can tell if you feel something abnormal. And most importantly, the women emphasized the importance of getting a mammogram whatever it takes.
“Most people are eligible,” Rittenour said. “If not sure, call and we’ll try our best, and if you can’t be covered by our program, we will find some other program that can help you. We just don’t want anybody to not have a reason to get a mammogram.”