Drinking pink for mammograms

Breast cancer claims more than 41,000 lives each year, making it the second deadliest cancer for women in the United States. There’s no way to know how many of those deaths could have been prevented through early detection with a mammogram.

To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation is hoping to provide 75 free mammograms for uninsured and under-insured Valley women this month through its third annual “Project Pink.” Procedures are performed at the hospital’s imagining annex in the Carolyn J. Stone Center for Women’s Health, located at 246 Perkins St. The hospital foundation is only able to offer these preventive screenings with support from Sonoma donors.

“‘Project Pink’ (offers free) mammograms each May and October, in honor of Mothers Day and Breast Cancer Awareness month, respectively. We would like to offer the service year-round, but that will only be possible if we can secure the funds to sustain a year-round program,” said Harmony Plenty, executive director of the foundation, who added that it gave away 45 mammograms last May. “Fortunately, we have many community partners who recognize how important the program is and help us in our efforts.”

One such community supporter is Sonoma’s Envolve Winery, which is in the midst of its second annual “Real Men Drink Pink” campaign throughout the month of October, culminating in a fundraising dinner and dance party on Saturday, Oct. 26. During the month, Envolve will donate $5 of every bottle of its 2011 and 2012 rose sales to “Project Pink.”

“We have one rose that caters to the Kool-Aid and alcohol crowd,” said the winery’s CEO Danny Fay of the 2012 Envolve Rose, which carries a sweet profile with notes of strawberry and watermelon.

“The other is much more sophisticated and dry,” he said of the 2011 Envolve Rose, which earned a Best of Class in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Wine Competition.

The “Real Men Drink Pink” event this Saturday will include a gourmet dinner from chef Christina Merkes, served in a private wine cave on Lovall Valley Road, as well as a live DJ and plenty of wine and pink cocktails to go around. Savvy Events has stepped in to transform the space into a pink parlor for the evening.

“The rose will be flowing like the salmon in the Capistrano,” Fay cryptically promised.

Last year’s campaign raised $3,500 for “Project Pink,” and Envolve is hoping to double that this year. Plenty said the foundation pays $161 for each mammogram it funds, the same rate that MediCare charges. The hospital foundation also received $7,500 from Jean’s Pajama Party in May for “Project Pink,” with another $10,000 raised through the Wine Country Weekend in September.

“Each gift of $161 enables a woman to get the mammogram she needs but can’t afford,” Plenty said. “Envolve’s contribution last year funded 22 mammograms. Monies raised at Jean’s Pajama Party’s fund-a-need provided 47 women with mammograms. And the grant from Wine Country Weekend funded 62 screenings.” Women Eligible for “Project Pink” have little or no insurance, or are on high deducible health care plans that make mammograms cost-prohibitive. They must be at least 40 years of age, the age the National Cancer Institute recommends women begin having annual mammograms. To obtain a free mammogram, a patient should ask her primary care physician to fax a recommendation for the health screening to the foundation; those without a regular physician can call the hospital’s Women’s Center at 935-5215. Patients should identify themselves as a “Project Pink” participant when making their mammogram appointments.

Tickets to Saturday’s “Real Men Drink Pink” event are $60, and half of the proceeds will benefit “Project Pink” at the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation. Tickets are available at envolvewinery.com or by emailing Colette Fay at Colette@envolvewinery.com.