Hospital begins mammogram fundraising campaign

Peggy Dills Kelter never had a lump. In fact, the cancer growing in her breast appeared as something resembling grains of sand during a routine mammogram last summer -- something she never would have detected on her own.

Dills Kelter, 45, had gone for her third regular mammogram since reaching the magic age of 40, when doctors recommend the procedure be done every two years.

"I was always really cavalier about it," said the Hood River artist. She'd just walked in the door of her house after the procedure at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital when the phone rang. It was someone from the hospital's radiology department. They'd seen something on her film. They wanted to do more tests.

After more tests, she was sent for a biopsy.

Then she waited.

"That was the worst part for me," Dills Kelter said. "That sort of interim, no-man's land when you're wondering, `Do I have cancer or don't I?'"

After an endless, terrible week, Dills Kelter's doctor -- who was also a friend -- knocked on her door one day; Dills Kelter thought she'd stopped by for a social visit.

"I made a flippant comment, like `What, are you here with bad news or something?'" she said. Indeed she was.

Dills Kelter had ductal carcinoma, cancer in the breast's milk ducts.

Because it was caught on the mammogram, Dills Kelter's cancer was in such an early stage that doctor's referred to it as Stage 0.

Within 10 days she underwent a lumpectomy, then spent seven weeks having radiation treatments at Celilo Center, part of Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles. Last fall, she was given a clean bill of health.

"I still feel like it wasn't bad," Dills Kelter said. "But that's because it was detected so early in a mammogram."

Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital is kicking off a major fund-raising effort this month for the purchase of a new mammogram machine at the hospital. The current machine is about five years old and is ready for an upgrade.

"This unit is great," said mammogram technician Kimberly Mix. "But like everything, newer equipment just gets better."

The hospital foundation will raise the funds by raffling off a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe.

"It has an approximate value of $30,000," said Kristine Wilhelm, assistant director of marketing for the hospital. The car was sold to the hospital foundation by Phil Jensen. Raffle tickets, which cost $100, will be sold until August, with the winner to be picked from a drawing during a ceremony at Families in the Park on Aug. 1. According to Wilhelm, 980 raffle tickets will be available.

The new mammogram machine the hospital has its sights on is a newer version of the one it now has. Mix said the new one will have more sensors and produce better quality images while using less radiation. It also will be compatible for future upgrades to all-digital technology which will eventually be the industry standard.

Mix said she performs an average of 50 mammograms a week. Many catch cancerous changes in breast tissue early, like with Dills Kelter. Other times, mammograms are used to monitor potential changes.

That's what happened with Linda Rouches, owner of Professional Business Solutions. Three years ago, she found a lump in her breast herself. She had a mammogram and, after studying the results, her doctor said he didn't think it was anything to worry about.

"He said to keep checking it and if I thought it was changing, we'd look at it again," said Rouches, 60. A few weeks later, she was still concerned and had another mammogram -- which showed that it had changed. A biopsy revealed Stage 1 lobular breast cancer.

Rouches had a lumpectomy as well as four months of chemotherapy, followed by radiation treatment. She's been healthy ever since.

"Even though the mammogram didn't initially catch mine," Rouches said, "we used it to monitor changes."

For information about the fundraiser, or to buy a ticket for the car raffle, call foundation director Judy Spellecy at 386-6474. Tickets can also be purchased online at

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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