Article Date: 8/1/2008

A Raffle For a Cure
reflections THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

A Raffle For a Cure

Optometry helped me raise awareness of breast cancer and funding for a cure.

LAUREN McLOUGHLIN, O.D., PORTSMOUTH, N.H.

On August 25th, 2006, much to my horror, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35. Soon thereafter, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy, four months of intense chemotherapy, 28 radiation sessions, one year of intravenous Herceptin (a breast cancer drug) and reconstruction surgery. Thankfully, I'm currently cancer free.

I've always lived my life believing that everything happens for a reason. After some deep thought, I rationalized that I'd been afflicted with this disease and had survived, so I could help raise breast cancer awareness — especially to women younger than age 40 — and funding toward a cure. Optometry has helped me to accomplish this.


ILLUSTRATION BY KELLY HUME

Quest for a cure

To make a difference, I decided to form a team of friends and co-workers — "Thugs For Jugs" — to participate in the May 2007 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer event in nearby Boston. To walk, each participant must raise a minimum of $1,800, which goes toward advancing access to care and finding a cure.

When the partners at Clear Advantage Vision Correction Center, the practice at which I work, heard about our team, they decided to help us raise funds by offering anyone who donated $100 or more not only $200 off their LASIK procedure, but a chance at winning free LASIK. (The partners provided transferable raffle tickets.)

To spread the word about the raffle, Eyesight Ophthalmic Services, P.A., the company to which our practice belongs, placed posters in all their general eyecare practices, and our Center director sent out a press release, which garnered local news coverage.

The raffle helped "Thugs For Jugs" raise $13,500.

Walking as one

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer consisted of walking 39.3 miles through two days (26 miles on day one for 12 hours and 13 miles on day two for seven hours). I knew the physical pain of the walk would be great (I developed severe muscle cramps and large blisters), but I had no idea how emotionally overwhelming it would be.

For two days, you walk, laugh and cry. People line the streets at cheering stations to thank you for walking, and participants and onlookers carry signs honoring and remembering everyone they've known who's been affected by breast cancer.

My most memorable moment: A woman sitting in a chair on her front lawn jumped up and ran toward a woman walking in front of me wearing a survivor cap and hugged her and said "Thank you." Both women started to cry, and anyone walking near them began crying as well. Neither woman had ever met before, but that didn't matter. They were bonded by a common cause. This is one of the reasons participating is such a huge adrenaline rush. You know where you've been, what it took to get you here and that with each step you take, you're one step closer to ensuring no one else has to go through it. Just writing about the experience causes my eyes to tear up.

This past May, the Clear Advantage Vision Correction Center held the raffle again — this time raising about $4,000 toward our team total.

To have been able to witness optometry's power to educate and help prompt the public into action about a non-eye-related healthcare issue reinforced what I'd already known: that optometry is a crucial component to the success of healthcare. OM


DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 643-8139, OR JEN.KIRBY@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.

Optometric Management, Issue: August 2008