Daily Messenger 12/22/20
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They’ve been best friends for over 60 years: Cathie Donner, Lynda Lochner and Sue Simpatico. All 1969 graduates of Nazareth Academy in Rochester, the three haven’t let the demands of career and family stand in the way of making time for one another. That goes for a tradition started years ago of getting together on the day of their scheduled mammograms at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care.
Donner said they go out for coffee that day and it’s a good excuse to catch up while they stay on track with their annual breast exams.
It all changed in 2014, when Simpatico was diagnosed with lymphoma and breast cancer. Early diagnosis led to further tests, decisions about options and then treatment that included stem cell replacement, chemotherapy and a mastectomy — an ordeal no one ever wants to go through.
Simpatico recovered from cancer, and her experience inspired Donner to donate the charity portion of her winnings in a national contest to the Elizabeth Wende Breast Care Fund. Created at Rochester Area Community Foundation by physicians of Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, LLC in 2008, the fund supports care, diagnostic education and research regarding breast health and cancer.
“I am very grateful and thankful,” said Donner, grand prize winner of Gannett Media Group’s Paint it all Pink contest. Donner received a check for $5,000 and on her behalf, Gannett made a donation of $5,000 to her chosen breast cancer charity, Elizabeth Wende Breast Care Fund.
Contestants took an online quiz about breast cancer awareness. Donner, a Chili resident, said she took the quiz awhile back and didn’t give it much thought afterwards. Then she learned she won, her entry having been the first chosen in the drawing.
“A lot of patients have said, ‘I am so thankful,’ and they wanted to do something,” said Dr. Stamatia Destounis, a provider at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care in Rochester. That is what inspired the physicians of Elizabeth Wende Breast Care in 2008 to create the Elizabeth Wende Breast Care Fund at the Rochester Area Community Foundation. Dr. Destounis said that by setting up the fund through the foundation, the monies could support area organizations that promote research and education centered on breast cancer and breast health.
The Rochester Area Community Foundation, in partnership with philanthropists and community partners, works to improve the quality of life in the eight-county Rochester region through leadership and strategic grant-making.
“All the monies stay in the community,” said Destounis, who completed her radiology residency at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry in 1993. She joined the Elizabeth Wende Breast Clinic and trained with its founder, Dr. Wende Logan Young, completing a breast imaging fellowship of one year and joining Elizabeth Wende Breast Clinic as an attending radiologist In July 1994.
Destounis said organizations that benefit from the fund include Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, the American Cancer Society, UR Medicine Wilmot Cancer Institute's Pluta Cancer Center and Embrace Your Sisters, which provides emergency breast cancer support, among others.
Elizabeth Wende Breast Care began in 1975 when Dr. Wende Logan Young opened the first dedicated breast clinic in the United States on Mt. Hope Avenue in Rochester. One of the largest freestanding breast imaging centers in the nation, it is the largest single-site breast imaging center in New York. Elizabeth Wende Breast Care states its mission has remained the same throughout the years and advances in breast imaging technology, “to provide each of our patients with state-of-the art breast imaging, along with compassionate, personalized care.”
Five runners up in the Paint it all Pink contest each received $500. One of the runners up is Katie Barnum of Canandaigua. Others are Geri Spera of Pueblo, Colorado; Melissa Dean of Spencer, Indiana; Judy Brazeal of Fayette, Alabama, and Kristina Schlueter of Delray Beach, Florida.