‘Significant’ donation puts $1.1 million campaign to purchase mammography equipment ‘over the top’

Patricia Carter's gift, on behalf of her late husband, was inspired by her experience as nurse and her daughter, a breast cancer survivor

Deirdre Shipley, left, is director of Diagnostic Imaging at Bluewater Health. She is pictured with Kathy Alexander, executive director of the Bluewater Health Foundation.

Bluewater Health Foundation has announced what is being called a “significant gift” from Patricia Carter on behalf of her late husband Ernest and their family.

Kathy Alexander, executive director of the Foundation, said the donation puts a current campaign to purchase two new state-of-the-art mammography machines for Bluewater Health over the top.

With the announcement this week that this year’s Dream Home Lottery has been sold out, Alexander said the Foundation has achieved its $1.1 million fundraising goal.

The gift by Mrs. Carter was inspired by both her previous experience as a nurse and her own daughter, who is a breast cancer survivor. “Donating to this very worthwhile fund is my way of giving back to the community,” she said. “Updated mammography equipment is a major step towards early detection of breast cancer. I am happy to be a part of this effort.”

Alexander said she was thrilled with the news of the donation.

“The generosity of Sarnia-Lambton never ceases to amaze me,” she said. “We are proud and honoured that so many in our community contributed to this very important campaign. Donations of all sizes, attendance at one of our special events and the purchase of Dream Home tickets all made a difference and helped us to realize our goal.”

Having the gift by Patricia Carter was an extra special piece of news.

“We are so thankful to Patricia for this significant gift that has such a tremendous impact and will benefit so many women in the Sarnia-Lambton community,” said Alexander.

The Mammography Department at Bluewater Health provides ore than 12,000 mammograms a year to women in Sarnia-Lambton and surrounding counties.

New innovations in equipment bring enhanced features and improved performance, one of which is the ability to generate 3D images of breast tissue, images which can be used as a follow up to a standard mammogram in challenging cases when the tissue is very dense or there is an area of concern.

The feature is called digital tomosynthesis and since its development, the technology has been used in such organizations as the Mayo Clinic.

Another innovation in mammography equipment is contrast-enhanced imaging where a dye is injected prior to the mammogram. The result is a better visualization of breast lesions through the targeting of areas where there is increased blood supply.

Alexander notes that while government funding supports the operations and administration of hospitals, it is donations that fund critical equipment purchases.

“These new machines will keep Bluewater Health on the cutting edge of early detection and accurate diagnosis,” she said.

Dr. Yousef Almalki, medical director of Diagnostic Imaging at Bluewater Health, said having the technology in place to diagnose earlier increases the five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer. In those cases where the disease is caught late, the survival rate is just 23%; in cases where there is early detection, the five-year survival rare is 100%.

The best way to help avoid dying of breast cancer is regular screening, which is provided locally at Bluewater Health.

“The acquisition of equipment of this caliber is made possible by the generosity of the Sarnia-Lambton community,” said Bluewater CEO Mike Lapaine. “It is because of gifts such as Mrs. Carter’s and the contributions of so many countless others, that Bluewater Health can purchase and install leading-edge equipment and technology right here in Sarnia-Lambton.”

The new mammography machines are expected to arrive in the spring. Offiicals say a celebration will be planned to mark its arrival.

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