A personal message from Debby Harrison:


You never think that it will happen to you.... until it does. 

East Lansing resident, wife, and mother of three, grandmother of three, Debby Harrison was in excellent health.


With no family history of breast cancer, Debby scheduled a proactive mammogram at Sparrow to stay ahead of the curve. With what should have been a routine mammogram came a life-changing diagnosis.


A second opinion reaffirmed this: I had breast cancer.

Further investigation revealed that I had Stage 0 and Grade 3 cancer cells. In 2010 after a lumpectomy, I began my six week radiation treatment at the Sparrow Herbert-Herman Cancer Center. 


Thanks to early detection, I am a survivor.

Michael and Debby Harrison

Ironically, at the end of 2017, I had new tiny specs which appeared during a new mammography. Because of the 3D technology which my endowment has helped to fund, my physician was able to immediately reassure me that this was not cancer. I remain cancer free. 


During the course of her treatment, Debby realized how fortunate she was to have been diagnosed early, and decided that she wanted to help other women in the community who didn't have access to the same resources that she had during her cancer journey. 

Inspired by Dr. Jim Herman, Medical Director of the Sparrow Herbert-Herman Cancer Center, Debby and her husband Michael started the Deborah L. and Michael G. Harrison Mammography Endowment. This endowment, established in 2012, provides permanent funding for breast cancer education and quality imaging care for all women of mid-Michigan. Debby's extraordinary generosity in establishing this designated fund is matched only by her passionate dedication to increasing education about the importance of mammograms. 


Debby has officially been cancer free for EIGHT YEARS!


Every year, Debby throws herself a birthday party and from 2012 to 2016, this party was held in her own home. However, in 2017, a new tradition began; her party will be held in the home of a woman who shares her passion for improving women's health. Debbie Ashdown, a friend of Debby Harrison, was the first to host the party with this new tradition. This year, Suzanne Kregel, another of Debby's good friends will be hosting this very special event on November 15, 2018. This is not just a party, but an event to celebrate cancer-free birthdays: a gift for one and all. 


Of course, this is not just any birthday party, but one that helps ensure other women also have the opportunity to celebrate special occasions, like birthdays, cancer-free. In lieu of receiving birthday presents, Debby welcomes gifts of any size to the Deborah L. and Michael G. Harrison Mammography Endowment at the Sparrow Foundation. Gifts in honor of Debby - and all the Debby's in our lives - will strengthen local, extraordinary care. As the Harrison Endowment grows, so too will the impact on women's breast health.


In 2016, Debby's Endowment grew by more than $38,000. For an update from Debby, please click here.


To date, the Deborah L. and Michael G. Harrison Mammography Endowment supported projects and initiatives include:


  • Covering the cost of mammograms and follow-up care as needed for women in underserved communities who acess care via the Sparrow Mobile Health Clinic. 
  • Assisting in the purchase of a Breast Specimen digital imaging machine in 2018, that cuts down on the wait time for results by approximately 15-20 minutes.
  • The distribution of hundreds of pinkie rings to women; a constant reminder to have breast screening done annually.
  • The funding of breast health education at community events. In fact, at a one-day event, free mammography screenings were provided to 16 women who were employed but uninsured. Of these women, 3 were called back for further review. Click here to read a story published by the Lansing State Journal about the importance of community support and how funds like the Deborah L. and Michael G. Harrison Mammography Endowment help provide the ability for those without insurance to receive treatment.
  • Beautiful post-surgical wraps for all women who undergo mastectomies at Sparrow.
  • Grants totaling more than $11,000 distributed in support of women's health initiatives, and the funding of community breast health education at community events. 
  • Assisting in the purchase of a Selenia Dimensions mammography system with 3D breast tomosynthesis, which is the most cutting edge technology available for breast cancer screening, especially for those with dense or fatty breast tissue. The purchase of this machine will eliminate the need for these Patients to travel to Detroit or Grand Rapids for screening. This technology provides more detail and clarity, increasing breast cancer detection by 30-40%. 

The Deborah L. and Michael G. Harrison Mammography Endowment is the grateful beneficiary of support from:

  • Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith P.C. 
  • The Kevin A. Kelly Action Fund
  • The Women's Council of REALTORS events
  • Sparrow Foundation Women Working Wonders
  • Tribute and Memorial gifts in honor of those touched by cancer
  • Many other generous individuals

Click here to read an update from Debby!