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Breast Cancer Awareness

Sept. 1, 2009
Hu–Friedy lends its support — one tooth at a time.

Hu–Friedy lends its support — one tooth at a time.

by Erin R. Kettel

It's a feeling many have felt — an uneasy tugging feeling, a sense of dread that starts in the pit of the stomach and spreads like a warm wave over the rest of the body, leading to sweaty palms and nervous tapping toes. The angst increases as the smell of the waiting room creeps into our nostrils. What we wouldn't give to bolt straight out those glass doors and off into fresh air, far away from the doctor's office and the appointment we are about to encounter — an appointment with an oncologist.

Hu–Friedy employees pose in front of corporate tent erected for the Mother's Day “Walk to Empower.”
Click here to enlarge image

Breast cancer diagnosis is frightening. But, luckily, support systems are in place to lessen the alarm and to relieve the extra stress that surrounds the shock felt by patients, families, and friends. The dental community has raised its hand in many ways to issue extra care and attention through information sharing, educational resources, and community outreach.

Breast cancer patients juggle a number of balls in the air when it comes to staying in control of their overall health; their oral health is no exception. Oral health is directly affected by various cancer treatments.

For this reason, support and education is crucial. Here is where two Chicago–based institutions teamed up to make a difference: Hu–Friedy, a 100–year–old dental manufacturing company, and Breast Cancer Network of Strength (formally known as Y–ME National Breast Cancer Organization). In 2006, 21 resident Hu–Friedy dental hygienists and dentists collaborated on the development of the Network of Strength instruments. The process was fueled by the desire to make an impact clinically and to touch the lives of others.

For Danielle Victoriano, RDH, a product manager at Hu–Friedy, the Pink Ribbon instrument project holds heightened significance. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor and has been cancer–free for 2 1/2 half years.

“I still get emotional thinking about the part I was able to play in my mother's struggle with breast cancer,” Danielle said. “She lives in New Orleans and I'm in Chicago, so it was hard to be together during the hard times. But by working on the development of the ‘Pink Ribbon' curette and ultrasonic insert, I was able to channel my support and energy into something I knew would help so many women, including my own mother. It was therapeutic.”

Knowing that the Network of Strength organization is dedicated to empowerment and education, Hu–Friedy found the opportunity to partner with the organization — a perfect way to promote breast cancer and overall health awareness through dental professionals. For each instrument sold, Hu–Friedy makes a corporate contribution to Network of Strength. Since the onset of the donation program in 2006, Hu–Friedy has sold over 25,000 Pink Ribbon instruments to date, raising over $56,000 for the breast cancer awareness organization.

“We can't achieve our mission without generous partners such as Hu–Friedy,” said Margaret Kirk, Network of Strength's president and CEO. “Their ongoing support helps us to ensure no one faces breast cancer alone.”

In addition, Hu–Friedy raised more than $46,000 through Network of Strength's Walk to Empower events since 2007. These funds are critical to supporting the organization's main service, the 24/7 YourShoes™ Breast Cancer Support Center.

YourShoes provides immediate emotional relief to anyone affected by breast cancer and is staffed by peer counselors who are breast cancer survivors. Calls are handled in more than 150 languages through real–time interpreters. It also includes e–mail–based support, match programs, and survivor–facilitated support groups.

“Since our services are provided completely free of charge, Hu–Friedy helps us touch lives today and in the future,” added Kirk.

Hu–Friedy also took their support to an educational platform in 2008, launching an online continuing education course, “Breast Health and the Dental Hygienist: What You Need to Know” for dental hygiene professionals. The course is authored by two breast cancer survivors and dental hygienists — Claudia Turcotte, RDH, and Debra Grant, RDH. The course focuses on oral health during breast cancer treatment and how the dental professional can aid and assist patients during treatment and beyond. To date, over 700 dental professionals have taken the course, illustrating the overwhelming interest in oral health advocacy for breast cancer patients.

“Network of Strength, Hu–Friedy, and the dental community hold many goals in common,” said Karen Neiner, the general manager at Hu–Friedy who spearheaded the cause–based effort for the company. “Listening, connecting, and improving lives are three actions that frame a dental professional's daily work. In turn; these actions hold overwhelming importance at Hu–Friedy and for Network of Strength.”

Another aspect of the Hu–Friedy/Network of Strength relationship that holds special importance is the annual Mother's Day “Walk to Empower.” For the past two years, Hu–Friedy has rallied employees, families, friends, and the dental community to lace up their sneakers, strut their stuff rain or shine, and celebrate their fundraising efforts. The Team Hu–Friedy tent in Chicago is always a flurry of activity on Mother's Day morning with food, prizes, and loads of spirit. The past two years have been very successful for Team Hu–Friedy, earning the company distinctive honors including the Network of Strength's “Silver Team Achievement” Award and the Corporate T–Shirt Design Award. Team Hu–Friedy's success rests largely on the involvement from the dental community, including the ADHA and the American Association of Women Dentists.

The commitment has continued throughout 2009. With National Breast Cancer Awareness Month upon us, it isn't too early to start planning for next Mother's Day.

Hu–Friedy will officially begin its 2010 Walk to Empower events on Valentine's Day with an informational kick–off as it has for the past three years. Mark your calendars now as a reminder to join the festivities and passion that surround the Walk to Empower. Details will be available at www.friends–ofhu–

Hu–Friedy thanks all those who have helped their efforts and encourages us all to step out and help those affected by breast cancer across the country — one stride, one tooth, one hand at a time.

Hu–Friedy employees pose in front of corporate tent erected for the Mother's Day “Walk to Empower.”

About the Author

Erin R. Kettel"is the corporate communications manager and Walk to Empower fund–raising liaison at Hu–Friedy Mfg. Co., Inc. in Chicago. She can be contacted at ekettel@hu–

Ready to help right now? Here are some ways to contribute:

  • Make a donation at
  • Request paper fund–raising ribbons for your office's lobby (details at–ofhufriedy)
  • Purchase Pink Ribbon instruments during Hu–Friedy's perio promotion (see below, available through December 31, 2009)
  • Become a member of Friends of Hu–Friedy and take the “Breast Health and Dental Hygienist: What You Need to Know” CE Course (www.friendsofhu–
  • Talk to your patients about the disease and create your own awareness plan

Take advantage of Hu–Friedy's Perio Promotion and Support the Network of Strength, which continues through December 31, 2009.

Scalers and Curettes

  • Buy any six scalers and curettes (including the Pink Ribbon CUREtte!), get one EverEdge® instrument free
  • Buy any 24 scalers and curettes, get five EverEdge instruments

Ultrasonic inserts and Symmetry piezo tips

  • Buy any two ultrasonic inserts or piezo tips (including the Pink Ribbon Ultrasonic Insert!), get one Swivel ultrasonic insert or piezo tip free

Symmetry IQ Piezo Unit

  • Buy a Symmetry IQ piezo unit, get four piezo S–Series tips free, plus a handpiece cassette free (three tips provided with each unit, select your choice of one additional tip)