Village to raise awareness about breast cancer and breast health
Paint Port Pink, John T. Mather Memorial Hospital’s month-long breast cancer awareness community outreach, returns in October with new events, initiatives and community partners.
A tree lighting ceremony in front of Village Hall Sept. 28 kicked off the event. Presented by Astoria Bank, the event’s mission is to stress the importance of screening, early detection and education about breast cancer and to help raise funds for the Fortunato Breast Health Center Fund for the Uninsured at Mather.
The Village of Port Jefferson will be all aglow as more than 80 storefronts will be decorated in mini pink lights and pink banners. Local schools will hold fundraisers and restaurants will offer pink drinks.
This year’s outreach will also include an art show at the Port Jefferson Free Library from Oct. 1 to 31, the 10th annual Pink Rock Golf Classic at the Baiting Hollow Golf Club on Oct. 3. Mather Hospital’s 51st annual Gala, One Enchanted Evening: A Night of Entertainment featuring the Edwards Twins, will be held on Oct. 14 at East Wind Caterers in Wading River at 7 p.m. The gala will include the presentation of the Community Service Award and Theodore Roosevelt Awards for service to the hospital and the community. The month-long event will conclude with Mather Hospital’s free educational health and wellness HealthyU seminar series and health fair on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 9 a.m.
Paint Port Pink is sponsored by Long Island Physician Associates, LI Anesthesia Physicians, Long Island Bone and Joint, People’s United Bank, Empire Bank, North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates, C.Tech Collections, Peconic Auto Wreckers and The Pie with the cooperation of the Village of Port Jefferson, the Port Jefferson School District, Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and other local groups.
A story of survival
The photograph is one of light and serenity, of calm waters and clouds and a bridge between darkness and light. It is a perfect metaphor for what Diane Towers was feeling when she captured the scene in Ocean City, Maryland following her final treatment for breast cancer.
“To me, getting through it meant seeing something good every day, that there’s beauty all around you and every sunset is something you appreciate more and more,” said Towers, a Mount Sinai resident who was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. “It was my first vacation after I had done chemo and I had my bald head and reconstructed body and we went away to Maryland. That picture was taken right outside our hotel room and the lights had just come on and it was just breathtaking to me. I was coming out of a dark time and seeing the light.”
Towers, a 28-year employee of John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, had discovered a lump in one of her breasts through self-examination. “It was a total shock,” she said, adding that there was no family history of breast cancer. She went to the Fortunato Breast Health Center at Mather and had a mammography and an ultrasound, but the results of both tests were negative, she said. Working with her doctor there, she had a biopsy taken and the cancer diagnosis was confirmed, she said.
“One of the things that came out of the experience for me is don’t put all your trust in technology. You have to be diligent. You are your best advocate for your health. You know your body,” she said.
After consulting with Drs. Joseph Carrucciu and Michelle Price at Fortunato, Towers elected to have a bilateral mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery. “They were wonderful advocates and just guided me,” she said. “I have to say the people at this hospital got me through this. They were amazing from the secretary when you first walked in to people in the lab. The compassion that comes out of people when you go through something like this really is amazing.”
“Here I am seven years later, finished with everything and in total remission,” Towers said. “I’ve had two children married and three grandbabies on the way and a lot of beautiful things have happened. So there is life after cancer.”
Towers entered her photo, “Light My Way,” in the Paint Port Pink’s art show. “It’s A Good Day,” at Port Jefferson Free Library. An art exhibit reception will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m., with viewing of the exhibit open to the public during normal library hours through Oct. 31. Artwork may be purchased for $50 per piece at the reception. After Oct. 5, please call Mather Hospital’s Public Affairs Office at 631-476-2723 if you would like to purchase a piece. Art work will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
For a complete list of Paint Port Pink events, partners and sponsors and to see all the entries in the art show, visit www.paintportpink.org.