When it comes to breast cancer, early detection is the key to survival.

“Any time you wait – whether it’s because you’re concerned about a deductible, or the cost of a mammogram or an ultrasound – that could put you into Stage 3 or Stage 4,” says Michelle Wood, director of major giving for the Missouri Southern Foundation. “With Stage 4, there’s not a cure. It becomes giving you as much quality of life as possible for as long as possible.”

It’s an issue that’s deeply personal for Wood, a breast cancer survivor who also serves on the HOPE 4 You Breast Cancer Foundation board. Having lost an aunt to breast cancer, she knew the importance of heeding the signs.

“Early detection was the key to my survival,” she said. “It was Stage 2. If I had waited, then my outcome wouldn’t be what it is now. I’m now in four years of remission.”

Founded in 2007, HOPE 4 You has raised more than $500,000 for area hospitals to assist the uninsured and underinsured get mammograms, ultrasounds and other diagnostic testing that is crucial to ensuring early detection is made.

“I’ve been involved with HOPE 4 You since 2017,” said Wood. “Pat Lipira reached out to me as I was just finishing with treatment and surgeries. She asked if I’d be interested in being on the board.”

Along with Wood and Lipira, Mary Van Galen is on the 12-member board – and all three are breast cancer survivors. In fact, eight of the 12 members are survivors, said Wood.

“An important thing about HOPE 4 You is that we do not have an employee,” she said. “We have a working board, and 100 percent of what is raised stays local.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the organization is once again partnering with Panera Bread in Joplin for what has become one of the non-profit organization’s biggest fundraisers.

“(Panera) is a great partner,” Wood said. “For every pink ribbon bagel sold in the month of October, we get 25 cents. But the important date is Oct. 15, because they give us 100 percent of sales from the bagels that day.”

New this year is a “round up” campaign. Customers can round up the total order of their purchase to the nearest dollar, with the money going to HOPE 4 You.

Wood said there are several options for members of the Missouri Southern community to order pink ribbon bagels on Friday, Oct. 15.

In addition to picking up orders in person, Wood said orders can be placed on the Panera app or at www.panerabread.com by Wednesday, Oct. 13, and she will offer free delivery. Those interested can contact her at ext. 9622 or Wood-M@mssu.edu.

‘Pink Out’ games

In addition to the pink ribbon bagel fundraiser, the Athletics Department has released its schedule of “Pink Out” games which will also support HOPE 4 You.

The Lions football team has partnered with the organization as well as the American Cancer Society for the game vs. the University of Central Missouri on Saturday, Oct. 16. Pink T-shirts will be sold, with all proceeds going to HOPE 4 You.

Volleyball’s “Pink Out” game is set for 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22; men’s and women’s basketball on Feb. 10; and softball on March 11.