A Pinktabulous Partnership

by Holly Hollman
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                           Firefighters, hospital foundation raise $20,000 for breast cancer detection equipment

DSCN7607 ATHENS-Connie Barksdale, a retired Limestone County teacher, knows the importance of early detection. Her family

Connie Barksdale

Connie Barksdale

tree has been invaded by a potentially fatal pest known as breast cancer.


She was diagnosed in 2012 and had a lumpectomy on Dec. 12, 2012, at noon.


“Twelve is my new lucky number,” Barksdale said.


pink elephant lencheonBarksdale, one of five women in her family diagnosed with breast cancer, spoke at Wednesday’s Pink Elephant Luncheon hosted by the Athens-Limestone Hospital Foundation. The luncheon raised money for the Pink Elephant Mammogram Scholarship Fund, which funds DSCN8425mammograms for those in Limestone County who have a doctor’s order but insurance won’t pay or they do not have insurance.


In addition, Athens Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief David Andrews, Fire Chief Tony Kirk and Mayor Ronnie Marks gave Foundation Director Shelli Waggoner a $20,000 check from Athens Fire and Rescue Auxiliary. Firefighters and hospital foundation members have been selling breast cancer awareness T-shirts to raise money toward the purchase of software called MRI breast coil. The software would be used with the hospital’s MRI equipment to detect breast cancer the size of a pin head. The software costs about $70,000.


Barksdale was a young girl when her mother had surgery for breast cancer and thought she had beaten it. Unfortunately, the cancer returned and spread to her brain, and her mother lost her battle.


“Technology has advanced so much since then,” Barksdale said.


Thanks to fundraising and awareness campaigns, Barksdale is not the only female family member who has survived the disease. Barksdale’s aunt, her mother’s sister, is a 13-year survivor. Her cousin, her aunt’s daughter, is a three-year survivor. Barksdale’s sister is a 23-year survivor. Barksdale is now a one-year survivor.


pink featuredAccording to the American Cancer Society, every year over 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer. An estimated 3,720 new cases will be diagnosed in Alabama this year. An estimated 690 will die from breast cancer this year in Alabama, the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the state.


Barksdale’s family and friends held up signs during the luncheon that said, “The best breast cancerprotection is early detection.”


Early detection with mammograms and technology such as the MRI breast coil can help increase survival rates. The American Cancer Society estimates these type efforts have lowered overall breast cancer death rates by 33 percent.


There are a few of the Athens Fire and Rescue Auxiliary breast cancer awareness shirts left and those sales will be added to the $20,000 already donated. The shirts are $15 for short sleeve or $20 for long sleeve. To purchase a shirt, contact Dawn Blakely at 256-233-8710.

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