From ribbons to mountains, October is covered in all things pink. The color is meant to raise awareness, and that awareness is saving lives.
Local Sevier County artist Pinkie Mistry turned 40 last year, the age at which the American College of Radiology recommends women have their first mammogram. Despite having no outward symptoms, she knew the screening was important.
Yet, she also had no insurance, which is an obstacle as many as 21% of Sevier County women face. Thankfully, she was still able to get her mammogram with help from a special program.
“LeConte Medical Center offers a program called Paint the Mountains Pink, which is funded by the Robert F. Thomas Foundation,” says Debbie Dowling, Executive Director of the Foundation. “Since it began in 2013, we have provided over 300 mammograms to Sevier County women who do not have insurance.”
Pinkie was one of those women. She went in expecting a routine screening, but the results were something no one could ever fully be prepared to hear.
“I found out I had cancer,” remembers Pinkie. “I freaked out. I cried.”
Then, she went into action. Pinkie continued her care at the Dolly Parton Women’s Center at LeConte. After surgery and radiation, she is now cancer free.
“If I didn’t have this program to go through,” says Pinkie, “then who knows how big that tumor would have gotten.”
She’s now giving back. As a well-known artist in the area, Pinkie designed t-shirts for this year’s Phil Carney Memorial concert benefiting Paint the Mountains Pink which took place at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pigeon Forge on October 6th. She was also featured on WVLT Local 8 News to help spread the word to other women.