Patricia Nolf is a four-time cancer survivor. First diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, she survived a lumpectomy, mastectomy, staph and bacterial infections and many other medical challenges. Now she is fighting to make sure uninsured women have the same access to care that she did. It’s her way of “paying it forward.”
In 2007, Patricia founded a 501(c)3 called the Pink Ribbon Trailblazers whose mission is to enable uninsured women in Oakland County, Michigan, to receive a free mammogram regardless of age. The Pink Ribbon Trailblazers partner with St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital to hold eight clinics each year where women receive a free mammogram and screening by surgeon Amy Kirby, MD. If necessary, they also receive a free ultrasound.
Sue Yun, a registered nurse at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital and a volunteer for the Pink Ribbon Trailblazers, says, “Losing your insurance is like being lost out at sea.” The Pink Ribbon Trailblazers help uninsured women take control of their health — and they are saving lives. At the very first free mammogram clinic offered in 2007, breast cancer was found in one patient.
As of December 2013, Patricia and the Pink Ribbon Trailblazers have raised $160,840 to support these efforts through an annual event called the Stroll, Ride, and Run “Fun”draiser. The women that benefit from the program keep Patricia motivated year after year. Patricia recalls one woman who received a mammogram and screening during a free clinic held the day before Mother’s Day. Before she left, the woman went up to Patricia and said, “You have given me the best Mother’s Day present I could ever have. Thank you.”