This entry was written by Kevin Gianotto, LBBC’s Marketing and Communications Manager. Kevin discusses why his role at LBBC is so important to him on a personal level:
In January of 2008, my Aunt Gerry was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer after a routine, annual mammogram. To say my family was shocked would be an understatement. Like all families, we have experienced varying degrees of illness with our loved ones (and of course and inevitability, loss) but it was the first time anyone in my immediate family had been delivered a cancer diagnosis of any kind.
In the tradition of my very small and tight-knit family we rallied around our own. Daily emails, telephone calls, funny cards and notes…for the duration of her post-surgery chemotherapy and radiation treatment, my family was in constant contact with my aunt. To be truthful, our concern at times was probably as overwhelming and exhausting to her as her treatment. Eight months after her diagnosis, my aunt was told by her doctors that it appeared that she was cancer-free. The surgery and treatment had worked.
Exactly what my family needed to hear! We were now allowed to let things go back to normal. We had permission to reorganize our priorities back to how they were before my aunt’s diagnosis – we could return to our lives and our jobs and our own personal “day-to-day” days. If the doctors said that my aunt was better, that was good enough for us. “Aren’t we lucky?” we asked one another. “Now it’s time to move on and put this behind us.”
But as I and the rest of my family left our first experience with breast cancer to the past, for my Aunt Gerry it had just begun. After an avalanche of support, my family slowly began to “forget” about what my aunt might be dealing with emotionally as we wandered back into normalcy. The physical, life-threatening part was over. It was O.K. to stop worrying. All clear. Full steam ahead. I will never forget talking to my aunt several weeks after her treatments had ended. The good nephew who was calling to say, “What’s up? Glad that’s over, huh?” And the tone in my aunt’s voice when she told me she wasn’t so relieved – that she was scared and wanted to know what was next.
I tell you all of this because that story is what motivates me to support Living Beyond Breast Cancer – the reason why I work here and why I confidently give back through personal contributions and fundraising efforts, most notably, for our upcoming Yoga on the Steps signature event.
At LBBC, I have found a community dedicated to helping women affected by breast cancer and their families help answer that very question, “what’s next?” A community that provides tools and resources that assist women at all stages after a breast cancer diagnosis – whether newly diagnosed, in treatment, recently completed treatment, years beyond or living with metastatic breast cancer; A community of family members, caregivers, friends and healthcare providers joined together as a national education and support organization. LBBC’s goal is to not only improve a woman’s quality of life but to help her take an active role in her ongoing recovery or management of the disease, regardless of educational background, social support or financial means. To serve as the “what next” for all women who may want and need us.
I want all of you who contribute your time, your resources and most importantly your financial support to know that you are doing so to one of the most worthy causes I know of. I work at LBBC and I see the impact of your support every day. I applaud all of you.
I’m happy to let you know three and a half years later, my aunt’s scans continue to come in clear of cancer. She’s doing great. And while not all of her “what next” questions have been answered, she knows that she has a place to go when she needs it.
I encourage all of you who are participating to work harder now than ever before to meet and exceed your fundraising goals and if you cannot join us, to please give generously in support of a participant. And of course, I hope to have the chance to see you on Sunday, May 15 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for Yoga on the Steps.