NEW BRITAIN - The Connecticut Breast Health Initiative took to Shuttle Meadow Country Club Thursday evening to honor volunteers, recognize sponsors and present research and education grants to leading breast cancer researchers.
“Tonight we celebrate going beyond raising awareness, tonight we celebrate finding answers and tonight we celebrate partnerships and passion - which is not lacking in this room,” said Joyce Bray, president of the CT BHI. “But most especially, this year we celebrate the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative’s 15th anniversary and the accomplishments that that brings.”
The Breast Health Initiative is a statewide non-profit committed to finding a cure for breast cancer through research and education. 100 percent of the money raised in Connecticut by the organization stays in-state in support of education and research.
Since it began awarding grants in 2005, the CT BHI has awarded more than $3.6 million in grant funds, including about $200,000 this year.
The following people/organizations received community education grants:
n Donna J Twist, executive director of the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Center to support groups for underserved patients.
nDenise Jones-Gagne, program coordinator for the Hospital of Central Connecticut’s Cancer Program, to support the program’s integrative therapies for breast health.
n The UConn Health Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Nancy Baccaro received a grant for her “A Brand New You” initiative and Christina Stevenson from the center received a grant for her “Hair Collaboration to Improve Breast Health” initiative.
The CT BHI also doled out clinical research grants to the following people/organizations:
nUConn Health Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center for the center’s DigniCap Cold Cap treatment option.
n Ravi Jain from Middlesex Hospital for diagnostic breast imaging to evaluate inconclusive mammogram and ultrasound findings.
n Xiaoyan Wang from the University of Connecticut Health Center for the center’s multi-factorial approach to improve breast cancer survivorship symptom care.
n Marilyn Moore, executive director of Witness Protection Connecticut for her “Educate & Empower” initiative.
Jones-Gagne said the money the hospital receives from the CT BHI goes to integrative therapies and support for survivors like yoga classes, art therapy and more. These services help survivors with stress reduction and pain management.
“The benefits of it are amazing. The art therapy, for instance … they rave about it,” Jones-Gagne said of integrative therapies the hospital offers. “It allows them a safe space where they can express themselves, it’s very low pressure and they’re able to be with other survivors so it works as a support that way, too. I think the programs are so beneficial.”
Jones-Gagne said funding from the CT BHI actually helped her launch the hospital’s art therapy program.
The CT BHI also gave out numerous Awards of Distinction on the night. New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell was honored with the CT BHI Community Award, Lori Brewer was awarded the Norma Cacchillo Pink Ribbon Award, Tom Ronalter was given the President’s Award and Emily Cagianello, Diane Gagne and Dori Schulze were each honored with the Wonder Workers Circle Award.
Many volunteers, individual fundraisers and sponsors were also honored for helping the CT BHI fulfill its mission.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.