Breast Cancer Victory Day

The following is an article that appeared in the www.portjefferson.com Website on September 21, 2003

There was a lot to cheer about at Mather Hospital's 7th annual Breast Cancer Victory Day on Saturday. Blue skies, a light breeze, inspirational words put forth by two of New York's most recognizeable leaders, and, above all else, the joy of survivorship permeated the grounds.

U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and New York State Health Commissioner Antonia Coello Novello, repeatedly received thunderous applause and standing ovations during their remarks. Sen. Clinton, whose husband, former President Bill Clinton, lost his mother to breast cancer in 1994, spoke fondly of her mother-in-law and recalled the battle she underwent to fight breast cancer. And she spoke with reverence of breast cancer survivors on Long Island. "Women of Long Island," she said, "survivors and their advocates, have been on the front lines in the fight against breast cancer."

She recalled the days when speaking of breast cancer was taboo, and credited women in leadership roles such as former first ladies, Betty Ford and Nancy Reagan, for helping to dispel the taboo by speaking out about their personal experience with the disease. She also credited facilities like the Fortunato Breast Health Center, for having such a positive impact, and for providing health care, education and support groups to women in need.

"This [Mather] hospital," she said, "has been an epicenter...it has brought people together...not just as a hospital, but as an advocacy center."

Dr. Novello was equally as powerful in her remarks. She spoke of survivorship, of hope, of eradicating the world of breast cancer, and never giving up on a cure. She also spoke of care and dignity due to women diagnosed with breast cancer, sending a message to, among others, physicians treating breast cancer patients. "Patients don't care how much you know," she said, "until they know how much you care."

Marlena Vega, PhD, a pioneering psycho-oncologist, third generation breast cancer survivor and one of the nation's foremost experts on survivorship, got the audience off their feet with three songs, "I Will Survive," "Macarena," and "Wind Beneath My Wings." She instructed all 1,200 in the audience - including Senator Clinton - how to breast self-exam to the Macarena.

Presented by the Mather-St. Charles Health Alliance and KeySpan, with additional support from Astoria Federal Savings, Breast Cancer Victory Day is a celebration of life and remembrance for all those whose lives have been touched by breast cancer. Of the 1,200 in the audience, 400 were transported from Penn to Port on the Long Island Rail Road Victory Train.

Breast Cancer Victory Day 2004 will be held on Saturday, September 18. For more information call 631-476-2723.

Click on the thumbnails below to see pictures from the event

"Seldom have I met an individual whose dedication has actually saved lives and kept families together that might have been otherwise fallen by the wayside..."

Robert Menendez
13th District
NJ House of Representatives
US Congress