Award Honorees

Jane (Zachary) Brattain '65

Jane (Zachary) Brattain never intended to have a cancer treatment center named after her; but then, she didn't intend to be diagnosed with breast cancer, either.

Jane's story began the day she donated a stereotactic biopsy machine to Park Nicollet. "We decided to donate this machine to help other women," Jane said. "However, about six months later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and ended up being the first patient [to use that] machine."

Jane was diagnosed early on and was able to get the treatment necessary to beat her cancer. In the midst of her treatment, she and her husband, Don, decided they wanted to expand their outreach for patients with breast cancer in honor of Jane's personal journey. Along with Jane's oncologist and another radiologist, they quickly moved forward with helping Park Nicollet establish the Jane Brattain Breast Center, specializing in diagnosing and caring for breast cancer patients.
"The vision of what a breast center could be like included a few things," Jane explains. In addition to the new stereotactic biopsy machine, a center dedicated specifically to breast cancer needed a specialized care team, including a "nurse navigator" position. A nurse navigator would be in charge of walking the patient through the process and calling patients if they were positively diagnosed as a way to make the experience more personalized. Since the Center was established 28 years ago, 1.5 million women have been screened there, including 60,000 in the past year.

In 2014, Jane and Don added a mobile mammography unit called "Mammo-a-go-go." This program, run out of two large, pink buses, travels to different areas around the Twin Cities to encourage women to get regular screenings to detect cancer early on.

"[Mammo-a-go-go] offers mammogram and diagnostic services to under-served communities at no cost," Jane said. "Women should not have to choose between buying shoes for their children and getting a mammogram, because early detection is key." During the first year, it was offered at 16 different awareness events and screened 261 women. This past year, those numbers have grown to 133 events and 2,189 women screened. Many of the events provide bilingual resources to ensure that all women have the chance to be screened.

Each year in October, the Center runs a program called Be Pink, which uses sponsors to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Be Pink also hosts a breakfast each year at which cancer survivors have a chance to share their story. The breakfast is one of Jane's favorite parts of her work with the Breast Center because she can see the impact of her outreach personally. "I am reminded truly about the good work that we do and what it brings to the community— it's pretty amazing," she said.

Rather than offer advice, Jane encourages current Minnetonka students and recent graduates to simply keep up the good work. "I think your generation is by far and away much more in tune with the importance of outreach," she said. "I really mean that. I think we learn from you and not the other way around."


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Joan Larson

Inducted into the Faculty Hall of Fame on October 10, 2020.