Pink Tea Founder Keeps up the Momentum

Former Idaho First Lady Patricia Kempthorne instrumental in raising awareness of annual breast cancer screenings at Gritman, across Idaho

Patricia Kempthorne saw a need.

It was 2002. Rates for mammograms and other preventative cancer screenings throughout Idaho were low. Kempthorne, serving as the first lady of the state of Idaho, decided to raise awareness – and screening rates – through events like the Gritman Foundation Pink Tea here in Moscow.

“It was a wonderful community event, and it was great fun,” she said. “And then it grew, and it grew and it grew.”

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That original Pink Tea was one of seven held around the state that first year. Twenty years later, Gritman’s annual program in support of cancer care services continues to thrive.

An evening Pink Cocktail was added in 2017 and both events have together raised more than $1 million for programs including Bosom Buddies, which provides free mammogram screenings for those in need.

In addition to funding for screenings, the events support our Light a Candle program, providing gas cards and other incidental costs for patients who have to travel because of a cancer diagnosis, as well as to purchase advanced diagnostic imaging technology in support of mammograms.

Gritman’s event remains the largest continual Pink Tea event in Idaho. And Kempthorne makes it a point to come to Moscow each year. That dedication to raising awareness about cancer screenings prompted Gritman to name our Women’s Imaging Center in her honor. Still, Kempthorne has the same message for women today as she did 20 years ago – get your mammogram every year.

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“What the effort around breast cancer prevention has done is really open the idea about cancer and understanding it and getting the help we need as soon as possible,” she said.

It’s also led to increased availability of services. Gritman partnered through Palouse Specialty Physicians and our partner hospitals in Pullman and Colfax to bring oncology services to our downtown medical office building in 2019. A project now underway will double that available space

“One of the things I believe about Gritman is they are visionaries,” she said. “They step out and go for it before some people, and others are still thinking about it. They’re making this decision to expand. Not because they hope they need it, but because they know they will, and they want to be ready when it happens.”

A supportive community, and visionaries like Kempthorne, make all that hard work possible.

Pictured at top: Patricia Kempthorne, Former Idaho First Lady and Pink Tea Founder.

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