Hospital chaplain Terry Perkins had everyone link hands in a semi-circle before the Tree of Love bathed Farr Park in purplish-pink light. “This symbolizes our commitment and unity against this cause.”

Archived Story

Tree of Love lit for second year

Published 8:58pm Thursday, November 29, 2012


Cancer survivor Terry DeShazo lit the second annual Lee Memorial Foundation Borgess Tree of Love Thursday evening in Farr Park.

“The foundation created this campaign to raise funds for women who are in need of medical care, but also as a way to honor and remember those who are special to us,” Chair Karen Judd said. “Tree of Love will assist low-income women without health insurance coverage with mammography services. Lights represent individuals who are being honored, memorialized, appreciated and thought of with special intentions. Once again, this generous and thoughtful community has stepped up to the plate and given support to a very worthy cause.”

Paul Spaude, president and CEO of Borgess Health, said, “This is a very, very special program that actually started in 1985. Now, we’re trying to expand it regionally in wonderful communities like Dowagiac, Portage, Plainwell and Kalamazoo.”

“Your gifts save lives,” Spaude said. “This past year, more than 250 women who were vulnerable had the opportunity to have diagnostic services and, where appropriate, continue on to cure this devastating disease, breast cancer. Last year, the goal was $50,000. This year, we raised the bar to take it up to $60,000.”

Featured speaker Marcia K. Liepman, M.D., specializes in hematology and oncology at West Michigan Cancer Center.

“I’ve been coming down to Dowagiac for 16 years,” she said. “I’ve driven around the world 2.5 times driving back and forth to Dowagiac, and it’s been worth every mile. In a hospital like yours, there’s a tremendous need to bring services that benefit so many patients in larger communities here, near your home, so you can be near the people who support you and love you.

“Breast cancer is a devastating disease one in eight women will develop during their lifetime,” Liepman said. “And it’s not just a female disease. There are 1,900 to 2,000 males with breast cancer every year in this country. Stage for stage, these men do just as well or just as poorly as women with breast cancer. We’re making strides.”



comes under fire


“You may be reading in the next week or two,” Dr. Liepman said, “about mammography not saving lives. That comes from an article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Statisticians have been at work, and, if you work hard enough, you can prove almost anything. Ask any woman whose breast cancer was found by a mammogram whether or not she feels her life has been improved in a major way, and I think you’ll get the answer that is most important.

“It’s an individual choice to have or not have a mammogram,” the doctor said. “But it’s available now in this community and others at low cost for women who otherwise could not afford it. This Tree of Love is very important, the support of the community is very important, and it’s been tremendously important for patients suffering from cancer and diseases of the blood who live in this community that there’s now an awareness that treatment is available. Early diagnosis with mammography is tremendously important. What if a man can’t afford it? Could he get a mammogram?”

“We’d see to it,” Judd said.

Interim administrator and CEO John Ryder closed the ceremony.



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