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The Carol Hatton Memorial Fund

Honoring a life of caring for others

Carol HattonShe went in for a routine mammogram and the results were anything but routine. Still, it was considered a "typical" starburst lesion, which thanks to early detection, could likely be resolved through lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy if she so chose.

Carol Hatton chose chemotherapy and anything else that would give her even a one-percent-better chance of full recovery. Ten years later, she was still fighting, but not just for herself.

In 2008, in her role as a senior development officer for Community Hospital Foundation, she assembled a committee of willing women: Laurie Benjamin, Dede Bent, Linda Kagan Cosmero, Betty Kasson, Suzanne Lehr, Marcia Modisette, Jane Panattoni, and Lucy Reno. Some of them have had their own diagnosis of breast cancer and all were connected to someone who has. Together they launched the Breast Care Initiative specifically to raise $2.5 million to bring digital screening technology to Community Hospital's Breast Care Center.

The committee met its goal in less than a year.

"Carol was the driving force behind raising the $2.5 million," says Benjamin, who co-chairs the group with Lehr. "She worked at this day in and day out. She wrote the grants, she was the support, she did all the leg work. I give her all the credit. It was all her idea. The rest of us were the volunteers; she was our leader. The whole time, she was battling her own cancer, and you would never have known it."

Carol Hatton was like that. Although her own health was of great concern to her and her family, her focus was on the community. Once the funding was secured for digital mammography, she shifted her efforts to raising money for a fund that would provide those high-tech diagnostic services - mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy - to women without resources.

"Carol was aware of the gap in funding for women without insurance or other support, women who are in need of diagnostic services but can't pay for them," says Michele Melicia Young, a fellow Community Hospital development officer. "Those women who find a breast lump that warrants a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, or biopsy can go through the hospital's Sponsored Care program. But the process could be shortened with a special fund, and reducing waiting time for these women can help reduce emotional strain.

"Dr. Steven Packer, Community Hospital's president and CEO, set a goal to raise at least $500,000 to create a diagnostic fund similar to the Sherry Cockle Memorial Fund established by Peter Ueberroth as a tribute to his late assistant," says Young. "That fund pays for basic screening mammograms."

Last year, Hatton prepared and submitted a grant application to the Safeway Foundation, which later awarded the fund $30,000. She had proved her plan a worthy project and was on her way to realizing it.

And then, last August, she died of breast cancer - just after turning 60, meeting her first grandchild, and launching the new campaign.

"I can't say that we were in denial, but just days before I had told her we would grow old together," says Dave Hatton of his high-school sweetheart, his wife of nearly 37 years, and the mother of his two daughters. "The only word to describe Carol is vivacious, in every respect. She had this unbelievable ability to make people feel like they were the only thought on her mind, simply because they were. She was able to focus completely on the person or task at hand."

After Carol Hatton died, Benjamin and Lehr reconvened the Breast Care Initiative group, adding Jan Dunn and Dr. Susan Roux from the Breast Care Center, as well as Carol's husband and her best friend, Joan Wellington. They renamed the diagnostic fund the Carol Hatton Memorial Fund for Women in Need and they are working to achieve the goal of $500,000. Once the goal has been reached, bringing this group's fundraising efforts to $3 million in less than two years, the Breast Care Center will be renamed the Carol Hatton Breast Care Center.

"Carol always flew below the radar," says Dave Hatton, "so she'd be quite taken aback. But what it is and what it is for would make it so special to her. Carol's time here was too short, but it was quite a ride. This will mean a lot to us all."

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