Members of the Benton County Breast Cancer Survivors group can attest to the importance of early detection. Five were diagnosed through mammography and three through self-exams. As part of their mission to spread the word about early detection and to help as many as possible afford the diagnostics tests needed, this group organized the Party in Pink 5K. Now an annual fundraising event held during Vinton’s Party in the Park celebration, the proceeds go to Virginia Gay Hospital’s Gifts of Hope program.

This year’s event will be held Friday, June 22. Participants are encouraged to register at Registrations will be accepted up to race time, but those who register prior to June 8 will be guaranteed an event tee shirt.

The Survivors group is pleased with the addition of 3D Mammography at Virginia Gay. It has come to Virginia Gay Hospital because of teamwork between Virginia Gay’s Imaging Department, the Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Foundation, and the Gifts of Hope Program. The imaging department focused on incorporating the new technology and software. The Foundation’s annual Tree of Lights campaign donated funds to purchase the equipment needed by the Imaging Department. The Gifts of Hope program is offering to pay the difference in cost between standard and 3D mammography for any patient choosing 3D mammography at Virginia Gay. Patients can get the most advanced screening available with the convenience of staying in town.

“Our newest physician assistant Trevor Nelson mentioned that one reason he chose to join us was the close relationship between Virginia Gay Hospital and the community,” says Mike Riege, Virginia Gay Hospital administrator. “He experienced the relationship firsthand when he spent a month here as a student. Our ability to add 3D Mammography is just another example of how the community works closely with our professional staff to provide the latest and most beneficial technology for patients.”

Monica Stark, Director of the Imaging Department at Virginia Gay, explains why she is excited to offer the new service, saying, “A study involving more than 12,000 women showed a decrease in false positives by 15% and an increase in the detection of invasive cancers of 40%. False-positive results are when a radiologist sees an abnormality that could be cancerous, but other diagnostic tests like ultrasound or biopsy show that cancer isn’t present. It causes worry and additional expense, so reducing them is important. The 40% increase in detection of invasive cancers is especially important. Invasive breast cancers start in the milk duct or milk glands, and can spread through blood or lymph systems to other parts of the body.”

“I wish we were able to show how a 3D mammogram is different, but 3D mammography images look the same as the 2D images unless, like a radiologist, you have the software to show them,” says Monica. “But a way to understand it is to imagine how much more detail there is when the radiologist can examine thousands of 1 millimeter thick images instead of seeing just one image. It takes the radiologist longer to read, but it’s a much more thorough scan.”

Robin Martin, Director of the Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Foundation, believes the 3D mammography program demonstrates how charitable giving through the Foundation has a direct and positive impact on patients. “Not only was giving to the Foundation essential for getting the equipment and software,” explains Robin, “but through the Gifts of Hope Program the community has also eliminated the additional cost of having the more advanced screening.”

If you would like to contribute to the Virginia Gay Health Care Foundation, you can do so through the Foundation’s website at, or by mailing a check to Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Foundation, 509 North 9th Avenue, Vinton, IA, 52349.

These 8 members of the Benton County Breast Cancer Survivors group can attest to the importance of early detection. (back row) Kathie Ervin, Deanne Halstead, Deb Wilberg, Janet Woodhouse, Rose Deal, Roxanne Harms. (front row) Doris Evans, Maureen Haisman