SPRINGFIELD The effort to find a cure for breast cancer was strengthened last week with an $84,000 donation to the Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure by Big Y Foods.
The money was raised through the sales of pink ribbons and from proceeds from sales of particular products. This was the third year the locally owned grocery chain sponsored a fund raising effort for breast cancer.
Attending the presentation of a donation of $84,000 to the Massachusetts affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure were Keith Desroches, assistant store manager of Big Y Foods in West Springfield; Ronni Cohen Boyar, executive director of the Massachusetts affiliate; Dr. Steven Schonholz of Mercy Medical Center; Scott Wolf, chief medical officer for Mercy Medical Center; and cancer survivor Leonor Salvador.
The formal presentation of the donation was conducted at Mercy Medical Center (MMC), which received a grant from the state Komen organization.
Ronni Chen Boyar, the executive director of the state affiliate, praised Big Y for its participation.
"Their outreach has brought some amazing opportunities to the western part of the state," she said.
She noted an emphasis on the early screening for breast cancer and different treatments have resulted in 98 percent of the women diagnosed with cancer as part of the breasts are still alive five years later.
Boyar, who has had breast cancer, said patients are not "survivors," but rather "warriors."
Earlier this year, MMC was awarded a $40,000 grant from the affiliate to provide free education and lymphedema screening for 250 breast cancer patients at the Mercy Breast Care Center.
Lymphedema is an accum-ulation of protein-rich fluid and associated inflammation in the arm that can impede the recovery of breast cancer survivors.
Dr. Steven Schonholz, the medical director of the Mercy Breast Care Center, explained the grant allowed for testing breast cancer patients before and after their surgeries to detect the possibility of this swelling.
He said early detection could prevent long-term implications.
The Komen grant also helped the Mercy Breast Cancer Center to reach out to Russian, Vietnamese, African American and Hispanic groups, to alert them to the need for early detection of lymphedema.
For Leonor Salvador, the support the Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure by Big Y Foods had special meaning. Salvador recently retired from Big Y Food after a career of 32 years in which she started as a cashier and worked her way to being a store manager.
Two years ago she found a lump in her breast and she noted she had not sought early screening. She recalled receiving the diagnosis was "the worst day of my life."
She received treatment at MMC and said, "I'm cancer free and I'm loving life."
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