Survivor: Mammograms critical in fighting cancer

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon keynote speaker Trish Crosser of Marshalltown holds a bundle of decorated sticks to acknowledge the event’s theme spoken many years ago by the late Native American leader Tecumseh: “A single twig breaks, but the bundle of sticks is strong.”

A nonchalant attitude may be acceptable in putting off household chores, but it can be fatal when one’s health is at stake.

That was a central takeaway from Trish Crosser’s keynote address to more than 200 attendees at the Seventh Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon Thursday at Elmwood Country Club. Crosser told the assembled she had delayed getting her yearly mammogram.

She was shocked when learning she had Stage I estrogen-based aggressive breast cancer.

“If I had waited one more year, who knows if I would be standing here today,” she said. “I am mad. I am mad at myself for my nonchalant attitude that almost killed me.”

Crosser is a busy retiree, formerly employed at Emerson Process Management/Fisher Controls.

Earlier this year she told the Times-Republican she was unsure if she was ready to talk publicly about her breast cancer.

“I went to my children and said: ‘I am ready to start healing emotionally. Tell me how it affected you. That will help me make my decision to talk about it. Two of my children came back to me with very touching letters. Now is time for me to talk publicly.”

Crosser was effusive in her praise of family members who helped her through the difficult journey. She cited her husband, children and in-laws.

Crosser did not disappoint, following in the footsteps of previous key note speakers with messages of having one’s courage and faith tested by the insidious disease. The crowd responded in giving Crosser a prolonged standing ovation.

Proceeds from the luncheon support the UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown Foundation’s PREVENT program. The program’s mission is to reduce the impact of breast cancer on the lives of Central Iowans. The Foundation hosts two clinics annually for free-of-charge mammogram screenings for non-insured or under-insured women.

The need is great, as the average cost of a mammogram is $467 and a follow-up ultra sound $278.

Two free mammogram clinics have taken place this year, both with the cooperation of the Radiologists of McFarland Clinic, PC, according to Foundation officials.

The event has developed a strong following from Central Iowans as well as support. On Thursday, and for the third consecutive year, the large Elmwood Country Club dining room was packed with overflow seating necessary in two adjoining rooms.

Before adjourning the event, emcee Dierdre Gruendler thanked Foundation board member Judy Adland who has served as luncheon chairwoman since 2013. She is retiring from the Foundation board to spend more time with family and at Adland Engraving, a family-owned and operated business.

In 2013, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed among U.S. women, as well as an estimated 64,640 additional cases of situ breast cancer. An estimated 39,620 American women died from breast cancer in 2013, with only lung cancer accounting for more cancer deaths in women.

Breast cancer incidence rates are highest in non-Hispanic white women, followed by African-American women and are lowest among Asian/Pacific Islander women, according to the American Cancer Society.

For more information about the PREVENT program, contact 641-754-5005. The Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) organization that supports UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown’s mission to improve the health and lives of the people and communities served.

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Contact Mike Donahey at

641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com.