Prairie du Chien woman wins Paula J. Tower Award

Coleen Skaife of Prairie du Chien is this year’s recipient of the Paula J. Tower Memorial Award. Coleen (right) is pictured with Paula Tower’s children, Kate and Jeff, who presented the award. (Submitted photo)

Every year the Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care in La Crosse, which is supported by Gundersen Medical Foundation, honors someone with the Paula J. Tower Memorial Award. This award is given to one individual in the Coulee Region in recognition of their efforts to advance the message of hope for a future without breast cancer.

 At this year’s Steppin’ Out in Pink event, Coleen Skaife of Prairie du Chien received the award.

Coleen is a breast cancer survivor. “Coleen holds nothing back when talking about breast cancer. By talking openly and honestly to the community about her cancer experience she hopes to encourage women to have yearly mammograms,” explains Debbie Siedel, who nominated Coleen for the award.

 Coleen has been the honorary chair for Relay for Life and a guest speaker at the 100 + Women United event that was held to promote women’s health and wellness in Prairie du Chien.  

 “Coleen was telling me how she was asked to be a speaker but she felt she really didn’t have a story to tell. Being a five-year cancer survivor, it just struck me that we all have a story. Coleen’s story speaks to the importance of getting a yearly mammogram to help catch breast cancer early. I wanted to honor her for sharing her story with others. She knows if it helps one person it’s all worth it,” says Debbie.

Another important message of Coleen’s story is you don’t go through difficult times like these alone. Reach out to friends and family—they make things easier. One final message that Coleen now gladly shares, “I am happy to say I am cancer free.”

The Paula J. Tower award was established to honor Paula Tower’s legacy and to remember the difference just one person can make. Paula Tower was a Gundersen mammography technologist for more than 16 years. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2004 and passed away in 2007. But, her remarkable legacy lives on.

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