Person of the Week: Dr. Lisa Tolnitch

October 23, 2009 3:04:25 PM PDT
A local organization is helping cancer patients pay for treatment they need.Pretty in pink is the brain child of Dr. Lisa Tolnitch. She is a local surgeon who saw many breast cancer patients struggling to pay the cost of fighting cancer, so she decided to do something about it and that's why Tolnitch is ABC11's Person of Week.

"I always wanted to be a doctor form like elementary school, junior high on," Tolnitch said.

She has dedicated her life to helping women with breast cancer. As a surgeon, she gives patients a chance for survival and a chance at life she noticed many women couldn't afford.

"I had two patients who had abnormal biopsies who did not want to proceed with any other therapies because of their financial situation," Tolnitch explained. "I was unable at that time to facilitate who process for them financially, so that started me thinking."

She decided to start the Pretty in Pink organization. It's a non-profit organization that provides funding for the uninsured or under insured, which don't have the money to pay for cancer treatment.

"There were a lot of women who fall through the cracks of destitutely poor and having a lot of money" Tolnitch said, "and that was before the economy went bad."

Tolnitch added there are women who work and who are living paycheck to paycheck but don't qualify for Medicaid.

"I wanted to make sure they would have access to care," she said.

So far Pretty in Pink has helped over 300 women in North Carolina -- women whose lives have been turned upside down by the devastating disease.

"It impacts every aspect of their lives, and even somebody who is working often has to take a significant amount of time away from work for treatment and they don't feel well often for a long period of time," Tolnitch said. "Of course, they're worried about their long term and how they're going to take care of their families and themselves and their husbands."

Financial help from Pretty in Pink is available to patients in 30 counties, but Tolnitch would like to services to people across the state and eventually beyond NC. That would require donations.

"We're happy to have any little bit of help or any little amount of financial support, and every little bit makes a big difference," Tolnitch said.

For more information about Pretty in Pink, click here.

To nominate someone for Eyewitness News Person of the Week, click here.

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