2017-10-12 / Living

Second annual “Pink Night Palooza” raises funds for local breast cancer program

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Rachel Mouser, Olga Wong, and Kristen Brisbin of Financial Plus Credit Union share a moment with Karin Burnett of Hurley Medical Center and two program participants, Gailene Adams and Betty Echlin. 
Photo by Lauri Elbing Rachel Mouser, Olga Wong, and Kristen Brisbin of Financial Plus Credit Union share a moment with Karin Burnett of Hurley Medical Center and two program participants, Gailene Adams and Betty Echlin. Photo by Lauri Elbing FLINT – Pink Night and Pink Palooza were two of the Flint area’s most popular breast cancer fundraiser events. In 2016, Financial Plus Credit Union and Hurley Medical Center decided to join forces by combining their breast cancer fundraising events into one huge annual bash. Last year, the event raised $120,000 and 100 percent of the funds raised benefit patients in Hurley’s Breast Cancer Patient Navigator Program to alleviate some of the financial and emotional burdens of recovery.

The second annual Pink Night Palooza was held Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Holiday Inn Gateway Center in Flint. More than 500 guests enjoyed the evening featuring a Bra-rtistry Fashion Show. What is Bra-rtistry, you ask? It is an artistically inspired bra that is wearable by models that strut their stuff down a runway. This year’s winner - “Nurse Betty” - was designed and modeled by Sam Thibault and submitted by Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy. The Golden Bra Award, a traveling trophy, will have the winner’s name engraved on it and can proudly be displayed by Diplomat for the next year. They will pass on the award to the winner at the 2018 Pink Night Palooza, or maybe they’ll keep the honor again next year.

“What a great night! I just want to thank all the sponsors, volunteers and the community for coming out with such strong support again this year,” said Kristin Brisbin, public relations specialist for Financial Plus Credit Union and co-chair of the event planning committee. “This is helping to support women and men all across this area.”

Financial Plus Credit Union started raising funds for Hurley’s Breast Cancer Patient Navigator Program when one of their employees began fighting breast cancer and a number of her colleagues encouraged the organization to get involved. Since 2007, nearly $370,000 has been raised for breast cancer patients through more than 100 events and sponsorships, including the original Pink Night and the bigger and better Pink Night Palooza.

It’s not too late to support the cause. Through October, Halo Burger, Cops and Robbers Ice Cream, Insta-Lube, Dr. Wax Orthodontics, and a number of other community partners will make donations when customers make select purchases.

The Breast Health Nurse Navigator is a highly trained registered nurse, certified in Breast Health Navigation, that is there to support patients going through breast cancer treatment from diagnosis to treatment to breast reconstruction to long-term follow-up. Her name is Marsha Schmit and she is also a breast cancer survivor.

“As a breast cancer survivor, I have personally walked this journey, which gives me credibility,” said Schmit. “We strive to help reduce external stressors so the patient can focus on their health. Sometimes, that means helping with a bill.”

This program has helped pay for tests, co-pays, groceries, gasoline, utilities, and other such things that can help reduce stress and help the patient focus on their health.

“The women and men I serve are humbled to ask for help and express so much gratitude when assisted,” Schmit said. “Life is so unpredictable that anyone of us could find ourselves or a loved one in need. This fund is a bit of sunshine and hope in a time of need. What a blessing to be able to make a difference in the lives of our community members!”

Schmit and a certified social worker co-facilitate the ‘Pink Perfection’ Breast Cancer Support Group: bi-monthly meetings give current and former breast cancer patients the chance to share with and learn from others. The benefits of connecting with others that intimately understand the full experience is profoundly meaningful and life changing.

“Sometimes the symptoms make you feel nutty, like this isn’t really happening to me,” said Gai lene Adams, a 1-year survivor from Davison. “The Pink Perfection support group helped me so much, and now I can do that for other women in the group.”

“Five years ago, I was running the CRIM. Then I got the diagnosis,” said Betty Echlin, a breast cancer survivor and reading teacher from the Clio area. “The fellowship of Pink Perfection helps me cope. Yoga is helping me regain my mobility. Art and cooking classes are fun. Keeping the gloomy doomy away and a strong mind, body and spirit is my focus.”

“It’s like your part of the family and they help you every step of the journey. Somebody is always looking out for you,” said Adams.

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