Pink the Rink has special meaning for cancer survivor

It’s a hockey game. It’s a fun Saturday night. For breast cancer survivor Jamie Tasky, Pink the Rink is more. It’s a milestone.

When the Everett Silvertips host Pink the Rink during Saturday’s game against the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tasky will be at Comcast Arena. Now cancer-free, she remembers her first Pink the Rink in 2011.

“It was right after I had surgery, and one week before I started chemotherapy treatments,” the 42-year-old Stanwood woman said Tuesday.

She was just 40 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2011. She had two surgeries before undergoing 16 rounds of chemotherapy, which lasted until March 2012. That was followed by three months of radiation treatments.

Healthy today, Tasky is grateful for the expertise of her medical team at the Providence Comprehensive Breast Center, and also for help she had paying for it.

Pink the Rink, where breast cancer survivors are honored and hockey fans are encouraged to wear pink, is a fundraiser for the charitable Providence General Foundation. Proceeds provide free mammograms for Snohomish County women who lack insurance coverage or other means to pay for the tests.

This will be fifth year for the event put on by the Silvertips, along with the Safeway Foundation and the Comprehensive Breast Center.

Cheri Russum, a spokeswoman for Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, said some donations also support Citrine Health, a nonprofit agency that works in partnership with Providence to provide screenings and services.

The Safeway Foundation donates $50,000 annually to the cause, Russum said. Money donated at Safeway cash registers to fight breast cancer stays in our community.

Over the past four seasons, Pink the Rink has raised $225,000, which according to the Silvertips website “equates to 2,250 free mammograms for women in Snohomish County.”

“I look forward to Pink the Rink as a milestone of celebration with other survivors and family members,” Tasky said. “Without the generous donations from Safeway and the Silvertips, life-saving resources would not be available to women like me.”

She and her husband, Jeff Tasky, own Tasky’s Metric Cycle on Hewitt Avenue in Everett. Their shop sells off-road motorcycles. Jamie Tasky said she didn’t have insurance that covered mammograms when her doctor, during a physical, suggested she get one at age 40.

“It was something I almost put off,” she said. Tasky looked into making payments to The Everett Clinic and went ahead with that first mammogram, which cost more than $300.

When the test turned out to be anything but routine, she went to the Providence Comprehensive Breast Center. After a biopsy, and with her husband at her side, “they gave me the diagnosis,” Tasky said. It was stage 2 breast cancer.

Tasky said she had no family history of breast cancer. She was relieved later to learn she does not have the BRCA gene mutation that would put her at higher risk for ovarian cancer.

Russum said much of Tasky’s treatment was paid through a program administered by Citrine Health, which oversees state funds and helps enroll uninsured breast cancer patients in Medicaid coverage.

“If women are uninsured, they don’t have to go without treatments that save your life,” Tasky said.

She lost her hair, and wore wigs donated to patients being treated at the Providence Regional Cancer Partnership. Except for her surgeries and recoveries, Tasky said she didn’t miss a day of work.

“Jeff has had my back. He called me ‘Champ’ through my chemotherapy. No one even knew I was sick,” she said.

Tasky said she and her husband may be featured in a short program on the big screen at Saturday’s game. “My husband is saying, ‘Fathers, sons, brothers, tell the women in your life to go get those tests done.’ Early detection saves lives,” she said.

At their cycle shop, the couple sell pink-ribbon breast cancer awareness stickers. Tasky launched a fundraising drive through Facebook, and said she hopes to donate about $1,800 to the Providence Comprehensive Breast Center.

“I just had a clear diagnostic mammogram. When my next one in January comes out clear, I will graduate to yearly tests as opposed to the every-six-months regimen I have been on since 2011,” Tasky said. “I’m feeling full of energy and pretty darn good.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Pink the Rink

The Everett Silvertips play the Seattle Thunderbirds at 7:05 p.m. Saturday for Pink the Rink night at Everett’s Comcast Arena. The Silvertips will donate $5 for each ticket sold to the Providence General Foundation to provide free mammograms in Snohomish County. Tickets, $15 upper level or $20 lower level, at www.everettsilvertips.com/page/pinktherink

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