YUBA CITY – When the Sutter-Yuba community needed the best technology to detect breast cancer, the Geweke family took charge in 2016 and donated $50,000 for the area’s first 3D tomography machine at Sutter Imaging in Yuba City. The community demand was so great for the state-of-the-art technology that a second machine was needed. When they learned that fundraising efforts fell short, the Geweke family again stepped up to the plate and recently donated $75,000 for its purchase.
The second 3D mammography unit is being installed at Sutter Imaging in Yuba City this month, which happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s appropriate, since the Geweke family has been involved for years in raising funds for cancer research, free-mammogram events, financial assistance to families faced with a cancer diagnosis, and supporting efforts to reduce breast cancer rates in the area.
“My family moved here when I was 3 to buy the Ford store,” said auto dealer Larry Geweke’s daughter, Nancy Geweke Elrod of Yuba City. “Now my siblings and I are raising our kids right here. … If someone’s going through this, we want them to have peace of mind that they are getting great care.”
The Geweke family has been in the car business for three generations now – and they’ve been in the business of generosity for nearly as long. It started when Larry Geweke partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation in 1997, launching a 5K in Yuba City. The event was a huge success and inspired the Gewekes to continue their work for local women suffering from female cancers, including funding mammograms for those who couldn’t afford them and establishing the Geweke Caring for Women Foundation providing financial assistance to patients in need. Now known as Pink October, it has since grown into 10 annual events between Yuba-Sutter and San Joaquin counties.
Because of the popularity of the 3D tomography machine in 2016, community fundraising immediately began to take place to secure a second machine. Unfortunately, a robust effort to raise funds – including from Sutter Health’s own employees – still left a shortfall. This year, the Gewekes learned of the gap and the family committed to a generous $75,000 donation to complete the fundraising need and facilitate the purchase.
And while for some, basking in a heroic glory might be tempting, to this family the priority is their mission: caring for women. Larry’s daughter, Nancy, says the commitment is simply everything their dad taught them about business and about community, now coming full circle.
“Our father always taught us how important it is to give back,” Nancy said. “Helping these wonderful women in our community has been a great gift to us as well.”
Lisa Hume, director of philanthropy for Sutter Health in the valley area, agrees. “They believe so much in their mission and the partnership with Sutter Health,” she said. “Our free mammograms throughout the month of October (to all uninsured or underinsured women) complement perfectly the services that the Geweke’s Pink October events offer and their mission.”
3D mammography offers 27 percent greater sensitivity than standard mammography, giving physicians the ability to detect cancerous tumors within the breast sooner. This is especially important for women in their 30s and 40s who have a family history of cancer.
Michael Stemen, manager for Sutter Imaging in Yuba City, said the 3D machine works more effectively than the 2D one normally used for mammograms. He compares the machine to taking pictures that are sliced like cheese – giving the radiologist a better look in the breast tissue for nodules, masses, or tumors. The 2D machine, he said, takes front and side views.