It was a cold and snowy day in February 2015, and like so many of us, I had a lot to do. I am a school district superintendent, and was in the middle of moving into a new school and shutting down an old school. Being busy I was inclined to reschedule my annual physical for later in the year, but the principal of the school convinced me to keep that appointment. I will be forever grateful because she just may have saved my life.
It was at that appointment that my physician detected a lump in my right breast that began my cancer journey. A month later, I received the phone call confirming that I had invasive breast cancer. Suddenly, I had to make time for a series of diagnostic tests, physician appointments, and decisions regarding treatment plans.
Almost immediately, I began to find out that so many women and men in my life were directly affected by breast cancer. This phenomenon is not unusual since after skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer. For women in the U.S., the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is one in eight, and for men the lifetime risk is about 1 in 1,000. As in my case, about 90 to 95% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family (genetic) history of breast cancer.
Most breast cancer organizations focus on awareness, early intervention, and treatment. It was one of my former students who informed me that Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) is committed to breast cancer prevention. She wanted to share with her fellow students MBCC’s mission of limiting exposures to environmental factors to help reduce future cancer diagnosis. MBCC Executive Director, Cheryl Osimo, came to the school and presented to over 200 students in advanced biology, environmental science, and honors programs. I was moved by Cheryl’s words and the genuine interest of the students. I knew then that I wanted to assist MBCC in their efforts to expand MBCC’s educational outreach program, Let’s Talk Prevention: Reducing Toxic Exposures, into a high school curriculum.
As an educator and a woman who has faced breast cancer, I am so gratified to be a part of MBCC and their mission. There is no relegating of survivors as part of some sorority that no one really wants admittance to. There is a commitment to making sure that my daughter and son never have to receive their own life-changing phone call with a devastating diagnosis. MBCC is committed to a future without breast cancer.
Your donation will continue MBCC’s work to educate communities, students, and health professionals on reducing exposure to everyday chemicals found in our modern lives. Your support will strengthen MBCC as they advocate for research and change public policy to eliminate carcinogens linked to breast cancer. Your donation can make a difference in the lives of our children, grandchildren, and future generations.
Your gift to support the mission of MBCC is a present to all of us.
Thank you and good health.
Superintendent of Schools
North Adams Public Schools