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Gouverneur group helping NNY residents in breast cancer struggles

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GOUVERNEUR — Don’t let the name of the Gouverneur Business Women Breast Cancer Walk hold you back from applying for financial support from the organization if you live in Jefferson County.

The group is encouraging more residents outside of the village and St. Lawrence County to contribute to the fund or apply for assistance to help get through breast cancer struggles.

“We are finding people will say, ‘I didn’t know you existed,’” said Terry A. Pistolesi, a board member. “We can cover their living expenses if necessary, transportation, child care while in treatment, medical expenses, medications and car payments. It’s not the same for every individual.”

The group shelled out more than $70,000 this year alone, which was made possible by the walk held this spring in the village, and by many pre-fundraisers and donations from throughout the north country. About $35,000 was divided among 25 women in St. Lawrence County. Five people in Lewis County and 20 in Jefferson County also received assistance this year.

Mrs. Pistolesi said she wants to see all numbers increase, especially for Jefferson County.

“We’re having a difficult time breaking into Jefferson County,” she said.

She said the board also would like to see more fundraisers and donations come from Jefferson County. All funds raised in the north country stay in the north country, Mrs. Pistolesi said, to help local men and women who are going through breast cancer treatment.

Edwards resident Melissa L. Brown is one of the recipients. On July 13, 2012, she received the news that she had breast cancer. Two weeks later, she flew to Philadelphia, Pa., to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, for a mastectomy. Against doctors’ orders she flew home the next day to be with a family member.

“The very next day I was parked in my recliner like an old lady, and I’m only 44,” said Miss Brown, a nurse at Edwards-Knox Central School, Russell. “I felt like the world was coming to an end.”

Then, there was a knock on her door. Too weak to get up, she said, “Come in,” and in walked a representative from the Gouverneur Business Women Breast Cancer Walk. Mrs. Brown said that day, a lot of weight was lifted from her shoulders.

While Miss Brown said she couldn’t recall the woman’s name, she said she’ll never forget the gifts and love with which she was showered. The woman came with a goodie bag full of support items, such as two heart-shaped pillows to place under each armpit to provide comfort near the chest after surgery. Also included was Miss Brown’s first financial assistance of $250.

“While I thought that was nice and sweet, I was beside myself,” she said. “That began a series of help.”

She said she lost count of the money the group gave her, which went toward her life’s necessities, including helping to pay for medication co-pays, fuel and utility bills.

She said she is now cancer-free. She said she stopped submitting reimbursement items to the group in January.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Pistolesi said, it is community organizations and businesses such as the Jefferson County Quilters Association and Mane Street Salon that raise funds that then are distributed among residents of Jefferson, Lewis or St. Lawrence counties who have battled breast cancer.

“As important as research is, when someone is fighting for their life, we try to take that burden away from them,” she said.

People who would like to apply for some of the group’s funds, or contribute to the cause, can call Mrs. Pistolesi at 287-7639, or visit www.gouverneurbreastcancerwalk.com.

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