NYBRA 2018 Uplifting EventMay 12, 2018
Nine years ago, I was running a support group session as part of the then-new Patient Empowerment Program, when a patient opened up about her experience with breast cancer related events. She and other patients had been talking about feeling committed to attending these events, but she found that the underlying theme was often disturbing. The events were built around portraying breast cancer patients not as thriving, dynamic human beings, but as victims. Someone would get up, tell a sad story, and everyone would cry. The overwhelming sentiment in the support group session was that everyone left these events feeling worse than they had going in.
My first thought listening to these women was that it should not be this way. That thought led to another: there should be an event that is uplifting, a positive celebration that is for breast cancer patients rather than about them. I approached the rest of the NYBRA team about creating something that would serve patients where other events fell short, and The Uplifting Events were born. Since then, we’ve put together six evenings full of life, laughter, and joy. They’ve grown exponentially over the years, from 40 attendees to 430.
Each event is a little different, as NYBRA patients—including those who underwent mastectomy for risk-reducing purposes—their families, NYBRA founding partners Drs. Feingold and Israeli, other partners Drs. Light, Korn, and Bank, and our entire medical staff come together to celebrate life. Patients’ breast surgeons, oncologists, hospital surgical nursing staff, and physical therapists who have been integral to the patients’ treatment join in as well.
Medical professionals who attend hundreds of events every year often say that if they had not known this was a breast cancer event, they would not have known that it was a breast cancer event. The Uplifting Event is not about surgery or disease. It is about the vibrant individuals in the room.
Our 2018 edition was the third to celebrate the caretakers who provided essential support to our patients, including partners and spouses, some of whom have formed deep connections through participation in the Men’s Breakfast Meeting.
Dr. Light reprised his role as MC for another blockbuster evening, which featured awards, a fashion show, and now-infamous surprise performances from our medical team and talented patients. This year’s Sisterhood of Support Awards recognized Katie Nidermaier, Linda and Chelsea Marks, and Jen Grabowski for their extraordinary contributions to our NYBRA breast cancer community. Funds raised by the 2018 edition of the event supported Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program and The Breast Cancer Comfort Foundation.
Take a look at one of the highlights from the event below, our take on “Come Together,” which will offer insight into why this is truly an Uplifting experience.