More than 150 donate tissue for "Super Cure"
By: Bill McCleery
The Indianapolis Star
Published online September 24, 2011, printed September 25, 2011 under the title "Giving of themselves to help save lives."
More than 150 women took time out of their weekend today to donate breast tissue to the IU Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis as part of “Indy's Super Cure.”
The project, a partnership between the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank and the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, aims to collect a stockpile of healthy breast-tissue samples for use in research into breast cancer.
Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., women arrived, often in groups, to keep pre-arranged appointments. Amid balloons and a generally festive atmosphere in a designated waiting room, they filled out consent forms before, individually, following an attendant back to a private room. Once there, each donor received a numbing injection in the side of one breast, just under the armpit. A few minutes later, a surgeon withdrew a tissue sample using a biopsy needle.
Emerging from the experience, donors seemed unanimous in saying the process was far easier than they expected.
“It wasn’t painful at all,” said Jennifer Pope Baker, 43, Carmel, just minutes after donating tissue. “And I have a very low threshold for pain, so for me to say that is saying a lot. I didn’t even feel the numbing shot.”
The machine used to extract the tissue “sounded like a coffee grinder,” Baker said, which she considered the most disconcerting aspect of the process. The sense of purpose and reward, she said, far outweighed the discomfort.
“It was an empowering feeling to know that the tissue I was donating could help advance the cause of finding a cure for breast cancer,” Baker said. “That’s pretty amazing to have the opportunity to be part of actual research.”
Similar thoughts came from Renee Washington, 48, Indianapolis Far Northwestside.
“The way I look at it,” she said, “it’s silly not to do it. They want tissue from diverse populations, and they need African American participation. If it can help to save one life, what’s a few minutes from my morning?”
She agreed the process was relatively easy.
“The most discomfort is probably just from this ice pack,” she joked, patting the side of her blouse.
The cold compress, she said, aids healing and prevents bruising.
Many women who came to today’s event did so as members of supportive local organizations. Baker, for example, is involved with the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana. Washington is involved with Links Inc.
As part of the “Indy's Super Cure” initiative, the IU Simon Cancer Center is holding another tissue donation event in November in Bloomington. Later, the weekend before the Super Bowl, the center hopes to accumulate 700 tissue donations over the course of Jan. 28 and 29. Organizers hope to tally 1,000 donations over the course of the entire campaign.
Call Star reporter Bill McCleery at (317) 444-6083.
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