Monday, September 27, 2010

Team Velvac- More than a Corporate Team

As co-captain of Velvac Inc.’s corporate team, Sandi Grages was a nervous first-time participant in the Southeast Wisconsin Race for the Cure back in 2007.

The reason for her nerves had nothing to do with that day’s race but with an appointment, scheduled for the very next day, to have her mammogram redone at the request of her physician.

“That very week – the first year I was in the Race -- I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Sandi says.

Sandi is the human resources assistant at Velvac, a New Berlin manufacturer of parts and accessories for trucks and RVs. The company, which employs about 68 people in Wisconsin, entered its first team in the Komen race in 2006 at the suggestion of Velvac President and CEO Jeff Porter.

Because of the company’s history of support for the Komen cause, Sandi decided to share the news of her diagnosis with Velvac employees. She used her situation as an opportunity to drive home the message that mammograms can save lives. In her case, the cancer was detected “in the very early stages” and found as a result of her mammogram.

“I couldn’t even feel the lump, it was so small,” Sandi says. “I got on my high horse and said in e-mails to Velvac employees, ‘Hey! Get your spouses, sisters and other family members of the right age in for their mammograms because you can’t always detect the cancer yourself.’”

Sandi underwent a lumpectomy in mid-December 2007 followed by radiation, which was completed in mid-February 2008. Throughout the process, she kept her coworkers informed of her status.

Today, Sandi says her health is good. Having an employer active in the Komen cause meant a lot to her when she went through her treatment. As a breast cancer survivor, she continues to raise awareness among Velvac employees about the importance of yearly mammograms.

Sandi is captain of this year’s Velvac team, which had 44 participants signed up as of Sept. 15. She is looking forward to joining her fellow teammates at Milwaukee’s lakefront on Sunday, Sept. 26.

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