The Bristol Press – CT’s Breast Health Initiative celebrates advancements during fundraiser

Friends and supporters of CT’s Breast Health Initiative (CTBHI) celebrate the advances in breast cancer research, treatment and patient outcomes over the two decades since the organization’s inception.

A 20th Anniversary Pink Ribbon Brunch and fundraiser was held at the Town & County Club in Hartford on Wednesday.

CTBHI President Joyce Bray recognized the continued contributions of the nearly 90 attendees, including breast surgeons, researchers, nurses, grantees, cancer survivors and volunteers.

“There is no CTBHI today without all of you here,” she said.

It seemed like everyone present had a connection to breast cancer, either as a survivor or a family member of a survivor or someone who had died from the disease.

Lt. gov. Susan Bysiewicz shared some statistics with the group showing that 268,000 women in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, including about 3,500 in the state. Her mother and sister both battled the disease.

A native of New Britain, Dennis Lobo can remember his late wife RuthAnn speaking at the Survival Breakfast during the CTBHI Race in the Park, which is always held at Walnut Hill Park. She volunteered there with her daughter and former WNBA All-Star Rebecca Lobo.

“For many years they went to the race in the park,” Dennis said. “This is a great organization and Joyce has been instrumental in continuing its mission.”

Emcee Mary Scanlon of Lite 100.5 WRCH introduced the speakers, including Saint Francis Hospital President Thomas Burke.

St. Francis, which served as the event’s main sponsor, has used grants from the CTBHI to increase the outreach of breast health to underserved Black and Hispanic populations.

“I’m so proud to be here today to raise awareness about breast cancer and celebrate this 20th anniversary,” Burke said. “Thank you on behalf of St. Francis Hospital and our patients.”

St. Francis Breast Surgeon Dr. Kristen Zarfos told the audience that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in August.

“As my husband points out, breast cancer isn’t just a woman’s disease; it’s a family disease,” she said.

29-year-old survivor Marsha Goldstein, a member of the CTBHI Board of Directors, also spoke.

Hospital of Central CT President Gary Havican is the husband of a breast cancer survivor.

“Because of the early intervention, my wife was diagnosed at age 40 after her first mammogram,” Havican said.

CTBHI has supported HOCC since 2009. The hospital joins over 100 other grantees including programs and initiatives from UConn Health, Yale-New Haven Hospital and Hartford HealthCare.

dr Pramod Srivasta, director of UConn’s Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, called CTBHI’s support “fantastic and remarkable.”

“The work you have supported is producing quite spectacular results,” Srivasta said.

His center, thanks to financial support, conducted efforts to measure cancer cells in the blood of patients.

“If you can measure the number and type of cancer cells in the patient’s blood without biopsies, not only does the patient’s well-being change dramatically, but also the understanding of whether or not the disease is progressing,” he explained.

In her reflections towards the end of brunch, Bray reiterated CTBHI’s commitment to breast cancer awareness and research.

“Please make the decision to keep advancing the mission and work of the CT Breast Health Initiative,” she said, “until one day we find dreams for lasting answers becoming a reality.”

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at [email protected]

Posted in The Bristol Press, General News on Thursday, October 27, 2022 12:18 pm. Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2022 12:20 PM.

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