Every year the Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care, supported by Gundersen Medical Foundation, awards the Paula J. Tower Memorial Award. The award honors one individual in the Coulee Region who has exemplified the selfless giving of time and energy to advance the message of hope for a future without breast cancer.
Margie Mason, of La Crosse, is this year's recipient. Margie will be honored Saturday, Sept. 8, at the 13th annual Steppin' Out in Pink for exemplifying the "Power of One."
In 2011, Margie was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer—just two months after losing her mother to the same disease.
Margie's friends, eight of whom nominated her for the award, say, "Our devastation was undeniable, with emotions ranging from shock to anger to fear and every stage in between. Although she has been the one afflicted with this horrible disease, it has been Margie, herself, who has been the pillar of strength."
Over the last seven years, Margie has been on a mission to rid this world of cancer. She has built a Steppin' Out in Pink team of epic proportions, including more than 700 walkers who support not only Margie but also the mission of Steppin' Out in Pink. Team Margie E Mason, also known as Team MEM (Movers Encouraging Miracles), has raised more than $40,000 to date with plans to continue the tradition in September. Independently, Margie has raised $12,550!
There's still time to register
The 13th annual event kicks off Saturday, Sept. 8, at 8:45 a.m. on Gundersen's La Crosse Campus Walking Trail. Sport your pink attire and walk with a team, friends, family or by yourself to honor breast cancer survivors and remember loved ones. There will be music, entertainment, kids' activities and shopping galore.
While these numbers are staggering, Margie's efforts do not end there. In 2013, as the Steppin' Out in Pink honorary chair, she went on the road with her story to area businesses and did interviews with the local media to raise awareness and support. She is a huge advocate of reminding women about the importance of self-breast exams and screening mammography. She also is a mentor to patients with new breast cancer diagnoses and provides emotional support to countless individuals and groups.
"I met Margie prior to her diagnosis and this is who she was: take charge, positive and loving life. The stage 4 diagnosis was one that made her EVEN MORE! More positive, more life-living, more life-loving, more aware of all the ways one person touches another.
"Margie used her attributes and rolled them into a one-woman force for breast cancer awareness at Gundersen Health System, the Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care and the support of community-based breast health," says another friend.
Seven years ago, Margie was faced with two choices—surrender or fight. She has never stopped fighting. "Through it all, she remains positive and refuses to let cancer get the best of her. She truly portrays what I believe Paula Tower's award stands for," adds a friend.
The Paula J. Tower award was established to honor Paula Tower's legacy and to remember the difference just one person can make. Paula was a mammography technologist who worked at Gundersen Health System for more than 16 years. In July 2004, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and her body surrendered to the disease in 2007.
Decorah man grateful for what he has despite losing finger
Movin’ & More with Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics
Project SEARCH students celebrate graduation and new jobs
Man thankful for care team following life-altering accident