Our Town: Manhasset Women’s Coaliton Against Breast Cancer

Our Town: Manhasset Women’s Coaliton Against Breast Cancer
Liz Procaccino, co-director of research (Photo provided by Tom Ferraro)

Everyone is aware of the symbol of Pink Ribbons which stand for cancer awareness. This dreadful disease is no longer in the closet and is now openly talked about. Pink Ribbon culture stands for values of cheerfulness, unity, hope and optimism in the face of this disease.

Breast cancer affects 12 percent if women worldwide resulting in 458,000 deaths annually. These alarming stats have increased since 1970. I can’t imagine a single American who has not been affected by this disease.
A mere 5–10 percent of these cancers are due to genetics which meanlifestylee style and environmental causes are far more influential.

The public needs more information, family’s need more support and science needs more research to turn this situation around. Thankfully there are a number of grassroots volunteer groups that are addressing all this.
Right here on Long Island we have the Manhasset Women’s Coalition against Breast Cancer which was created around a kitchen table 21 years ago and has since grown into a fully volunteer organization providing outreach programs for families and funds breast cancer research.

To find out more about the group I interviewed Elizabeth Procaccino who is the group’s director of research. Ms. Procaccino earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and did research for Forrest Laboratories in Cleveland before moving to Manhasset to raise her family.

Her husband is John Procaccino the noted colorectal surgeon and her daughter Lauren is studying to be a physician’s assistant so the entire family has both brains and heart.
Volunteerism is one of the greatest American traditions.

One of my fondest possessions is a letter I received from Michelle Obama when she was First Lady.

I had written to her and sent her a few of my articles about small town life here on Long Island. I was stunned when many weeks later I received a gracious letter from her in return. Part of the letter read “I encourage you to find a way to strengthen our country by serving your community.”
I think Michelle Obama would be quite proud of Elizabeth Procaccino, her group of all-volunteer women in Manhasset and the selfless work they are doing.
Ms. Procacccino explained to me that her coalition’s mission was to unite the women of Manhasset in the fight against cancer and to find a cure.

Since its inception it has grown considerably and has two branches, one being community outreach and the other to fund cancer research.

To date they have funded over $3 million of research and have spent more than $1 million in community programs which provide meals, transport, support groups and counseling to cancer survivors and their families in need.

The current president of the group is Barbara Kelly Vessa and the research co-director is Fione Galbraith.
These are the types of people Michelle Obama was referring to when she talked to me about engaging and supporting ones community.

The Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer is a perfect example of a grassroots charity organization that displays the very best of what it means to be a human. They are not looking for fame and they are not looking for personal gain.

They are simply reaching out to those in need and doing their best to help them at a moment of crisis.
Hilary Clinton once wrote a book with the “It takes a village.”

The title is perfect because it summarizes exactly what humans need in order to thrive. To live a good life everyone needs love and support. This is the core of Ms. Procaccino’s group of women volunteers.

She said the group looks at the entire life of the survivor and tries to help socially, emotionally and practically. But not only that, but they also keep to their mission of funding innovative cancer research and now even provide for the funding of two internships under notable cancer researchers in the New York area.

As they have grown they now help families from many communities on Long Island.
The German film maker Wim Wenders once made the movie Wings of Desire about invisible angels who would stand next to those in despair and give them support and solace. This is exactly what her Manhasset group does as well. They stand by and selflessly give of themselves to ease the suffering of those in crisis. What could be more wonderful than this?
If you want to know more about their next event (Ladies Night Out. Oct 24th), if you want to get involved or if you’re a corporation looking to get behind a great cause just call (516) 627-2410.

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