The Michelle-O-Gram charity came about following the untimely death of a local young wife and mother. Michelle Blauser Standridge, age 36, succumbed to breast cancer nearly 4 years ago. During the three years she was battling this horrible disease she was always thinking of others and reminding them to get their mammograms. Desiring to carry her message to all women, regardless of age or race, Joey Wiesbaum RN, from here in Dunnellon, FL came up with a clever idea of calling it the Michelle-O-Gram. With the approval of Michelle's husband, and family, we begin collecting donations, doing fundraisers, getting the word out and negotiating pricing, with radiology centers, which would allow us to help women without insurance or the necessary funds to obtain mammography testing.
Advanced Imaging, State Road 200, and on 17th Street, in Ocala, FL have been unbelievably gracious and allowing us to work with them along with the ladies we have sent to them for testing. The majority of woman are in the 30 to 50 year age bracket. Many of them have had insurance in the past and now have not been able to be tested for several years due to job cuts, insurance costs, loss of a spouse, etc. One morning, a woman called asking for assistance and had been living with a lump in her breast for nearly 6 months but felt she had no where to turn for help. She was diagnosed with cancer and is currently in treatment and has had surgery. Another young lady was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, doors opened for her and she is currently receiving treatment at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL and is able to continue raising her young autistic son. The stories go on and on. One woman who felt alone, had no finances, turned to us and continues to call us to say "thank you, you saved my life".
The one only way this program continues to provide assistance is through the generosity of individuals and local organizations. Not only does the Michelle-O-Gram assist with screening mammograms but also diagnostic mammograms, and breast ultrasounds. Many women present with actual problems rather than seeking a screening mammogram as preventative care. We have also been able to make referrals for procedures and other treatments.
The First United Methodist Church, in Dunnellon, FL writes our checks and does all the bookkeeping for the Michelle-O-Gram. They allow us to operate as a charity under their 501(c) account. Their contribution ito the Michelle-O-Gram allows us a to assist even more women and there is never a concern over the incoming or outgoing funds.
The Michelle -O-Gram has become more than just scheduling mammograms. Scheduling appointments for mammograms, obtaining a doctor's order for mammograms: BRCA gene information, referrals to other organizations, and getting the word out there that help is available, and allows all of us to make an impact in our community and in the world around us.