For more than two decades, Support Connection has remained a place to turn for women who have been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer.
Last Friday morning, sponsors, volunteers and organizers affiliated with the nonprofit organization came together at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt to kick off the drive toward the 2017 Support-A-Walk fundraiser that will be held on Oct. 1 at FDR Park in Yorktown.
The annual walkathon, which attracts thousands from the community and the tristate area, brings attention to the needs of people living with breast and ovarian cancer while raising funds to pay for free support services the Support Connection provides.
Women who have been diagnosed and their families can receive counseling and join support groups and education and wellness programs.
“This is an organization that’s critical, there’s just so much to offer,” said Katherine Quinn, Support Connection’s executive director. “What I love most is that all of my peer counselors have all had cancer, so we’ve been there and we care.”
Peer counselor Andrea Karl said her first phone call after she learned she had breast cancer in 2003 was to Support Connection. She said she joined the organization, which was founded in 1996, to help others cope with the same fears, questions and concerns that she had.
“When you’re diagnosed you’re so scared and so vulnerable, and to be able to now be on the other side and tell people that you understand that gut feeling of fear is an incredible opportunity,” Karl said. “Every person I talk to is an inspiration to me because they feel like they’re not. They feel like their bodies failed them, they feel like they’ve failed their family and to be able to listen to somebody and get them to realize how strong they are is a necessity to anyone who is diagnosed.”
Karl added that while Support Connection is a local organization, she receives calls from people nationally and internationally.
Quinn credited NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital for its cancer center and programs that have helped patients feel comfortable and more at ease.
Event sponsors also feel an importance to support an organization that helps so many people. Michelle Berman, a lawyer with the Sloan & Feller law firm in Mahopac, a major sponsor, said the Oct. 1 walk would be the ninth time she will be participating.
“I always liked the community aspect and I continue to go back and support them every year,” Berman said. “As a woman, it’s very important to support other women.”