When Andrea “Andi” Spirtos was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, she did not have health insurance, and had to figure out how to come up with at least $700 per month for treatment.
“I sold everything I could think of to sell,” she said. “I’d literally fast so I could save enough money for my chemo.”
Spirtos’ story is all too common—and that’s why the Desert Cancer Foundation exists. The nonprofit was founded in 1994 by Cory Teichner, Arthur Teichner and Dr. Sebastian George, and since then has helped many thousands of cancer patients who are uninsured, underinsured or otherwise lacking funds to pay for their care. Today, cancer-survivor Spirtos is in a much better place; in fact, she works for the Desert Cancer Foundation as its director of donor development.
October is going to be a busy month for Spirtos and the rest of the folks involved with the Desert Cancer Foundation, because it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The foundation, with some help from the Miramonte Resort and Spa, is kicking off the month a little early: From 5 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26, the Miramonte will launch “Think Pink,” a month-long series of events and specials, during which some of the proceeds will be donated to the Desert Cancer Foundation.
The launch party will include a fountain commemoration, live music and specialty pink cocktails. Through October, the Vineyard Lounge will offer those special pink drinks, and each Thursday, Gina Carey will perform, and donate $5 of each CD she sells. The WELL Spa will offer special “Think Pink” treatments, and the Miramonte will accept donations for the foundation at the front desk.
Of course, the Desert Cancer Foundation has more big plans for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
On Saturday, Oct. 12, El Paseo in Palm Desert will be the site of one of the Desert Cancer Foundation’s biggest events: Paint El Paseo Pink. Through Oct. 5, individuals and teams can register online to participate for about $25 per person; on-site registration begins at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 12, with the walk starting with an opening ceremony at 9:30. The foundation, with the help of the Desert Healthcare District, hopes to raise at least $150,000 at the event, and some El Paseo businesses are getting involved; for example, Spirtos praised Brighton Collectibles for holding a special “Girlfriends Day” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., during which some of the proceeds will go to Paint El Paseo Pink.
However, raising money is not the only goal of the event.
“We’d like to raise awareness for people to get screenings,” Spirtos said. “Not just women; men can contract breast cancer as well.”
Spirtos said she’s proud of the fact that thanks to the support of local sponsors and the medical community, the Desert Cancer Foundation arranges $7 in services for every dollar donated.
“It’s wonderful to have people coming together to support the foundation,” Spirtos said.
For more information on the Desert Cancer Foundation, or to register for Paint El Paseo Pink, visit desertcancerfoundation.org. For more on the Miramonte Resort and Spa, visit www.miramonteresort.com.