AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Mammograms can be expensive for women who are uninsured or under-insured.

“For a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy, it’s going to run about $2,000,” Erin Chrisco, a breast health navigator at Augusta University Health, says.

After losing their jobs and insurance during the pandemic, many women in Augusta faced a dilemma.

“It left a lot of patients having to choose between, ‘Do I go get a mammogram, or do I feed my kids this week?'”

Erin Chrisco and the Augusta University Breast Health Center team did not want women to have to make this choice. In October 2020, Chrisco started a “Pinko” fundraiser, similar to “Plinko” which is played on “The Price is Right.” Participants then win raffle tickets, which can be used to win prizes donated from local businesses.

“Our goal in raising these funds is to get patients to diagnosis. In order for a diagnosis to be complete, they have to have a pathology report that shows they have breast cancer.”

If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she can become eligible for financial help and is connected with the Georgia Cancer Center. Getting diagnosed is key. The team at AU does not want any person’s cancer to go undetected or untreated.

“We predict there will be about 5,000 more breast cancer deaths because of delays in screening during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Michelle Lee, a diagnostic radiologist at AU Health, explained in April. “It’s essential that all women over the age of 40 come in and get their annual mammogram. Don’t put it off anymore.”

“Early detection is what is going to save lives,” Chrisco adds. “With all the advancements that have been made with breast cancer treatments, we know that with even the most aggressive breast cancers, when found early, they are nearly 100% curable.”

The AU Breast Health Center team has raised $7,000 so far, exceeding last year’s total of $5,000. They hope to reach their goal of $15,000 by the end of October.

The raffle drawing will be held on October 28. The team will continue to set up their “Pinko” game at the following locations:

Augusta University locations:

Oct. 12 – Terrace Dining, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 13 – Georgia Radiation Therapy Center, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 14 – Core Lab, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2:30-4 p.m.

Oct. 18 – Family Medicine, 2-4 p.m.

Oct. 20: Terrace Dining, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 22: Surgical Services, 2-4 p.m.

Oct. 25: Terrace Dining, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 26: Interventional Radiology, 7:30 a.m.

City of Augusta locations:

Oct. 15 – Mot’s BBQ, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Oct. 20 – Jackson’s Bluff, 5-8 p.m.

Oct. 21 – Doc’s Porchside, 5-9 p.m.