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June 18, 2013

Checking in with cancer survivor

TERRE HAUTE — The last time the Tribune-Star visited with Amy Bagnoche, July of 2012, she was fighting back tears talking about her own battle with breast cancer and the battles that others were facing.

But a meeting with Bagnoche a few days ago revealed more smiles than frowns.

“I can do a push-up now,” the Sullivan County native and current Terre Haute resident said with a chuckle. “I can do more than one push-up.

“I’m doing 150 percent better. It’s amazing how much better I feel. With the support of everybody — family, friends, doctors, just everybody who’s been behind me and helping me get back in shape — I feel so much better. I’m done with everything [treatment-wise], except for follow-up visits. I am fine.”

Bagnoche, 46, realizes that even though her health has improved so much since her diagnosis in July 2011, not everyone else’s has. That’s why she wants to provide assistance to those in worse shape.

“Everybody needs help,” she stressed. “There are so many people. One in eight women in the United States gets breast cancer. There are people getting breast cancer every day. They need help with deductibles, pharmaceutical medicines, hair wigs, gas to get to chemo[therapy] treatments, babysitter costs, etc. … You’re missing work. So when you’re missing work, most of the time you’re on short-term disability or maybe long-term disability. So you don’t get 100 percent [of your usual pay].

“There is a need for people to go get checked and go get mammograms and they are expensive. A lot of people in Terre Haute are underinsured or not insured. I saw that from a patient’s perspective when I was sitting in the chemo room or sitting in the waiting room. I could hear what the receptionists would say to these people. It’s a very costly disease.”

By now, some of you might be wondering: Makes sense, but why is this story in the sports section?

Well, Bagnoche and friend Darren Brucken, a Terre Haute family-practice doctor, will be throwing a weekend-long party July 12-13 to benefit their relatively new not-for-profit organization P.I.N.K. (stands for Passion, Initiative, Need, Knowledge) and there will be sports tie-ins both days.

On the Friday of July 12, Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders will be at Bogey’s Family Fun Center, where the P.I.N.K. Party 2013 gets started at 7 p.m. and concludes around 11.

“We’re inviting entire families to this, with the opportunity to participate in some activities,” Brucken said. “With your ticket, you get a dinner plus a live country band out of Nashville — the Adam Craig Band.”

Among the activities are go-karts, mini-golf, batting cages and outdoor trampolines.

Tickets — which cost $50 per person for ages 16 and up, $20 for children 4 through 15 and nothing for children 3 and under — can be purchased in advance at Bogey’s, WTHI-FM 99.9 studios, Elements Salon and Spa, Wabash Valley Harley-Davidson and Hair Express. Each ticket entitles the user to a dinner, soft drinks and unlimited outdoor activities as well as arcade tokens and access to the playland structure.

A cash bar will be available for adults 21 and over, plus there will be a silent auction (with two of the items being a signed jersey from the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and an IndyCar experience giveaway) and appearances by those Colts cheerleaders.

The next day, a few members of Indiana University’s undefeated national-champion 1975-76 basketball team will be at Idle Creek for the second annual “P.I.N.K. of Terre Haute Breast Cancer Golf Outing.” That’s a name change from last year’s inaugural “Tee Up for TaTas.”

A scramble format will be used and the $150-per-player entry fee includes 18 holes of golf, cart, lunch, drinks, awards and prizes. Brucken said individuals not on a team can still sign up and be placed on a team. Registration is limited to the first 120 golfers who enter.

Registration/lunch will begin at 11 a.m., with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. There also will be a prize for the participant or volunteer who wears the most creative “pink” outfit.

“We’re encouraging people to memorialize friends or relatives from their life who have been touched by breast cancer,” Brucken mentioned about the golf outing. “We’ll have ‘In memory of …’ sponsor signs and ‘in honor of …’ sponsor signs [for living patients battling breast cancer].”

For more information on the outing, email Bagnoche at amy@bagnochesports.com or Sandy Pilipovich at spilipovic@aol.com or visit the www.pinkofterrehaute.com website.

Brucken, who first met Bagnoche while helping organize the golf outing in 2012, is president of P.I.N.K. and Bagnoche is the vice president.

“We launched the entire charity based on the fact that we wanted 100 percent of the proceeds to stay local and act locally here in the community,” he explained.

Brucken lost his mother-in-law, Virginia Harris of Terre Haute, to breast cancer in 2006, so he’s no stranger to the disease.

“I see it every day within the office setting,” he noted. “As Amy said, it’s a widespread disease.”

Bagnoche said she and Brucken co-founded P.I.N.K. soon after last year’s golf outing.

“P.I.N.K. is a local, not-for-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling the unmet needs of people in the Wabash Valley affected by breast cancer,” according to an information card provided by Bagnoche.

To reiterate, all proceeds from the Bogey’s and Idle Creek events will go to P.I.N.K., although Bagnoche and Brucken insist they have nothing against other breast cancer awareness organizations.

“The national breast cancer organizations, such as Komen [the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation] and others, they fulfill large grant needs,” Brucken pointed out when asked about the need for P.I.N.K. in the Wabash Valley.

“But we want to be at the bottom of the system for people so they get their everyday needs met … so they have someplace to turn.”

Individuals wishing to seek assistance from P.I.N.K. can do so through its website. Brucken said they’re working toward building a staff that can accommodate more individuals later in the year.

In the meantime, Bagnoche and Brucken hope to help the community enjoy a weekend of fun through entertainment and golf.

“We want this to get bigger and better every year,” Bagnoche said.

 

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