GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Pink chairs are scattered throughout Pitt County businesses. They’re empty and people aren’t allowed to sit in them. It’s known as the Empty Pink Chair initiative.

“It reminds us of the women who we’ve lost to breast cancer,” said Dr. Bruce F. Schroeder, medical director at Carolina Breast Imaging Specialists. “This is an empty chair they would have filled.”

Carolina Breast Imaging Specialists is sponsoring the initiative. Laura Smith, owner of The Biscuit and the Bean Cafe in Greenville, sponsored a chair for her business.

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“I had a family member who had a 10-year battle with breast cancer and she passed away in 2018,” Smith said. “We also have a lot of our customers that come in whether they have breast cancer or another type of cancer. We help them whether it be through prayer, or we’ll give a quart of soup on the way home after treatment, or just as a pick-me-up.”

These business sponsors are also helping women across North Carolina.

“The ultrasound, the biopsy, the MRI, those bills can add up fast, and some women need transportation, wigs, medication,” Schroeder said. “The money we raise goes to the Pretty in Pink Foundation Charity. It’s a North Carolina-based charity that helps women with financial based medical care.”

Not only are the empty chairs raising money to help women, but also raising awareness.

“It lets people know that some of the women who were lost may have been saved had we done screening mammograms,” Schroeder said. “Without screening mammograms, there would be a lot more empty chairs.”

He also has recommendations for women and screenings.

“We recommend every woman who is at an average risk to get a mammogram every year starting at the age of 40,” he said. “If you have a strong family history, meaning your mom or sister had breast cancer, then we might consider doing your screenings younger.”

Carolina Breast Imaging Specialists offer discounted mammograms every first Friday of the month to encourage everyone to get a mammogram, despite any financial limitations.

“Our 3D screenings, ultrasounds and all the things we’re able to do, it really has improved breast cancer from a 50% survival rate to almost a 90& survival rate,” Schroeder said.

To learn more about sponsoring an empty pink chair, or the services CBIS provides in Eastern North Carolina, visit their website.