Everyone knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer. I have two cousins, who I consider to be more like aunts, that fought this disease several years ago. And my Nana succumbed to breast cancer when I was just a baby.
This October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I would like to draw attention to some of the wonderful work being done to fund research that will hopefully lead to a cure for this killer.
So I reached out to one of my cousins, Carol, who is a part of a 501(c)(3) organization called The Pink Angels. She put me in touch with the co-president of The Angels, Josie Seneta. Josie shared with me her personal struggle with breast cancer, why she co-founded The Pink Angels and how people can get involved to help find a cure. Since this is her story, I feel like I should let Josie tell it in her own words ….
First off, I am a Mom of two beautiful daughters and one son and the grandmother of five. My newest grandson is only three weeks old. I also work part time as a dental hygienist and absolutely love my career and my patients.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June, 2003, after finding a lump. I grew up with two aunts that had breast cancer but it was never really talked about. My mom was diagnosed in 1994 and myself along with my six siblings all supported her through her surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and learned a lot about awareness during that time. She was very open about everything and encouraged all of us to be proactive.
When I was diagnosed nine years later, the support system was already in place and I felt totally surrounded by their love. I am, at this time, a 14 year survivor and am very grateful for all the new diagnostic tools that are available today. My youngest sister was diagnosed four months ago at the age of 48. I am fortunate enough to be able to guide her through her journey. Things are different than they were 14 years ago and the testing and the treatment is much more advanced. Fortunately, her cancer was found early and she is doing well.
Having the support of so many friends and family during this time has been incredible but the truth is, the work of The Pink Angels as a group has truly made a difference in my life. The Pink Angels was formed in January, 2005, as a walking team for The Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk in Boston. We had 35 members the first year and that number grew every year after that to almost 100. We became the largest team and the top fundraising team in Boston for many years, raising over $1 million to fund breast cancer research. We also walked in other cities such as San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa, Washington D.C., Arizona and Philadelphia. Some of us did two to three walks in one year. It was an incredible journey for all of us. It’s hard to describe the emotions, the friendships and the bonds that were formed.
Our last Boston walk was in 2013. When we knew that the Boston walk was ending, we decided to become our own 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and turned our fundraising towards more local organizations. Our very first donation was made to the Lynn Community Health Center in Lynn, MA to support breast health at that center. We also support the Lymphedema Program at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, MA and the YWCA in Malden, MA, with their outreach program.
Our biggest project was establishing a fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in memory of our good friend and mentor, Bridget Mooney Spence. Please check out her blog, My Big Girl Pants. [Bridget passed away in 2012 at the age of 29 from breast cancer.] The $100,000 commitment is used for research for young women with breast cancer.
Our 3rd Annual 5K Run and Walk is being held on Saturday, October 21st at Lynn Woods Reservation (the Great Woods Road entrance) at 9:00 a.m. Registration is $25. Please go to our website for the link to register.
Because of the involvement with the 3-day organization, I have met so many survivors over the years and their stories continue to amaze and inspire. It does make you realize that you are part of something much larger than yourself.
In closing, The Pink Angels is truly a family of warriors. The generosity, the kindness and the willingness of everyone to do what it takes is life changing for me. Having spent time with Bridget was a gift that I will always cherish. This group has become my extended family and for that I am forever grateful.
– Josie Seneta
Thank you so much to Josie for sharing her story and of course we are wishing her sister a quick and speedy recovery. Also a big thanks to my cousin (Auntie) Carol for putting me in touch with Josie. Please check out The Pink Angels and if you live in the North Shore Massachusetts area, a reminder that their next event is The Pink Angels 5K Trail Run and Walk in Lynn, MA on October 21st. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day, so what not get out there and help out a good cause?
I hope you will share your encounters with this terrible disease in the comments below. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, or it’s your mom or friend that has been diagnosed, I would like Fashionably Kate to become a space where we can come together as a community to support one another during this Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the year.