Ascension Borgess Lee Foundation hosts annual Tree of Love lighting

Published 11:45 am Thursday, November 30, 2023

DOWAGIAC — One area foundation turned a part of Dowagiac pink Wednesday in support of providing life-saving care to women in Cass County.

The tree, donated and wrapped with more than 1,500 pink lights by Jon Mitchell, illuminated the night sky as members of the foundation, hospital staff and the community joined together in celebration. The tree was blessed by Amanda Hassle of the Myers-Henry & Hassle Real Estate Team and with the push of a button, she made the pink lights appear. 

Retired Lee administrator and cancer survivor Sue McCormick was this year’s featured speaker. McCormick was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ in 2013 and with Invasive ductal carcinoma just three months ago. She credited her family, her community and her team of nurses for helping her overcome the disease. Her nurses were able to surprise her by making a trip to the tree lighting ceremony.

“My nurses were phenomenal,” she said. “I will never forget and always be grateful to Lynn and Monica. I remember they pulled at the end of the office and told me to put my ‘big girl panties’ on and move forward to complete my treatment. So, they gave me a pair of big girl panties.”

McCormick, who had held onto that gift ever since, brought it to the ceremony and hoisted them up for all to see and was met with laughter and a round of applause for her achievement.

So far, the foundation is moving toward its $25,000 goal for the Tree of Love Campaign. The campaign provides free mammography services for uninsured or low-income women and men living in Cass County. According to Ascension, one in eight women will develop breast cancer and one in five can’t afford a mammogram. To date, Ascension Borgess-Lee has provided more than 300 free screening services.

The foundation will continue to raise funds until the end of the year.

In addition, the foundation is also promoting the Helping Our Patients in Emergencies Fund, which provides patient needs including prescription medications, medical equipment (e.g., walker, commode chair, oxygen), gas or transportation for follow-up appointments, food, electricity and more.

McCormick encouraged men and women to get mammograms and to donate to the campaign.

I implore all of you to get your mammograms, not just occasionally but annually because cancer grows very fast,” she said. “Please talk to your family members and your friends, spread the word. Use me as an example. Because of my mammograms, the cancer was detected in the early stages both times… They saved my life. Through our tree of Love campaign, we are hoping to reach out to those who are underinsured or uninsured to enable them to obtain mammograms and possibly save their lives – women and men.”

To make a donation or learn more about the Ascension Borgess-Lee Foundation, call (269) 783-3026.