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AU Breast Health Center staff raise money for mammograms

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The staff at AU Health’s Breast Health Center has developed Pinko, a game based on a popular Price Is Right game, to raise money to help uninsured and underinsured women pay for mammograms.

The Breast Health Center will also offer appointments for mammograms on Saturdays throughout October.

Kari Wilkes woke up one morning to find her nipple inverted.

Frightened – and with a strong history of breast cancer on both sides of her family – she knew she needed to have a mammogram to be screened for breast cancer, but a recent job loss left her unable to pay for it.

Patients like Wilkes are the reason Erin Chrisco, a nurse navigator in the Breast Health Center at AU Health, and her colleagues developed a fundraiser to help uninsured and underinsured women pay for mammograms. Called Pinko, the fundraiser is a raffle reimagined as a fun take on Plinko, a popular game on The Price is Right.

Chrisco said once a patient receives a diagnosis of breast cancer, a wealth of resources opens up to them. But the problem for some women lies between finding a lump or – in Wilkes’ case an inverted nipple – and getting to a diagnosis.

“What we find is ladies who are underinsured or uninsured entirely sometimes have a hard time getting to their diagnosis because they can’t afford their diagnostic work up,” she said. “So the resources that benefit patients with breast cancer don’t apply. They don’t qualify for those until they have a diagnosis, meaning that they have a pathology report showing that they’ve had a biopsy, and that they have been diagnosed with cancer.”

Because Wilkes’ job loss was recent, her income while employed was too high to qualify for any type of financial assistance. Yet with no current income, she had no way to pay for the mammogram to help her get to a diagnosis.

“You kind of fall into a loophole,” Wilkes said.

Chrisco and her colleagues will set up Pinko at various locations around AU Health and in the community throughout October. To play, participants purchase discs, which they will drop into the Pinko board. The discs down the board and into a slot at the bottom. The slots contain numbers between 1 and 5. The player receives the number of raffle tickets indicated in the slot.

“We turned it into a game that makes our fundraiser a little more fun than saying, ‘Hey, would you like to buy a raffle ticket’,” Chrisco said.

Prizes have been generously donated by local businesses and are grouped into nine themed bundles, including a barbecue bundle featuring $100 in gift cards, $250 in gift cards to a variety of downtown restaurants, and a coffee lover’s bundle featuring local roasters. The grand prize is a Big Green Egg grill, donated by Pete Alewine Pools and Spas.

On Oct. 5, Chrisco will take Pinko to Savannah River Brewing Company and will be joined by Nick and Marie Capito. Marie is completing treatment for breast cancer and the couple, coincidentally, will celebrate the milestone with friends at Savannah River Brewing on the same date. They invite breast cancer survivors and supporters to join the celebration, which will also include music by local musician Joe Stevenson.

The drawing will be held Oct. 28.

Pinko will be held around AU Health at these locations:

Oct. 6 – Labor and Delivery, 7 a.m.

Oct. 7 – Terrace Dining, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 11 – Digestive Health Center, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 12 – Terrace Dining, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 13 – Georgia Radiation Therapy Center, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 14 – Core Lab, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2:30-4 p.m.

Oct. 18 – Family Medicine, 2-4 p.m.

Oct. 20: Terrace Dining, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 22: Surgical Services, 2-4 p.m.

Oct. 25: Terrace Dining, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 26: Interventional Radiology, 7:30 a.m.

Additional dates and locations for Pinko in the community are:

Oct. 5 – Savannah River Brewing Company, 5-8 p.m. (A portion of sales during this time will be donated to the fundraiser.)

Oct. 9 – UBORA Coffee Roasters, 9-11 a.m.

Oct. 15 – Mot’s BBQ, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 20 – Jackson’s Bluff, 5-8 p.m.

Oct. 21 – Doc’s Porchside, 5-9 p.m. (A portion of sales during this time will be donated to the fundraiser)