Cancer Survivors Named Ambassadors for Support Connection’s 18th Annual Walk

(L-R) Dana Boulanger and Brenda Maxwell
(L-R) Dana Boulanger and Brenda Maxwell

(Published by: Yorktown Somers Patch) Two women who have gone through the struggles of being diagnosed with cancer and beating it are sharing their experiences and support with other women.

Dana Boulanger, of Somers, and Brenda Maxwell, of Fishkill, were named Walk Ambassadors for Support Connection’s 18th Annual Support-A-Walk, which will take place on Sunday, Oct. 7 at  in Yorktown.

The Ambassadors represent the spirit and purpose of the Support-A-Walk, which is held to bring attention to the needs of people affected by breast and ovarian cancer and to raise funds for Support Connection’s free, confidential services to those affected by these diseases.

At age 40, Boulanger discovered a lump in her breast that turned out to be cancer. Shortly after completing her treatments for breast cancer in 2001, the woman started participating in the Support-A-Walk. When she found out she had cancer, the single mother at the time contacted Support Connection for emotional support while going through chemotherapy and radiation. She also tried Support Connection’s yoga and meditation programs, and found them to be “invaluable” as she coped with the stress and life changes a cancer diagnosis brings.

Each year Boulanger walks at the annual event with her team made up of friends, family members, co-workers and other supporters. In 2011, Boulanger  partnered with several other business women to form a group called the Small Business Advisory Board, raising $3,000 through a wine tasting party, which they plan to repeat this year. In addition to being a Walk Ambassador Boulanger is Support Connection’s 2012 Humanitarian of the Year.

“I want to do everything I can to let people know how critical is it to raise funds to keep Support Connection and its programs running,” Boulanger said. “Emotional and spiritual support are so important to recovery from cancer, and so hard to find. The peer support offered by Support Connection is truly unique and incredibly valuable.”

Brenda Maxwell has been involved with Support Connection before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010. As a former Yorktown resident, Maxwell began attending the Support-A-Walk event since the very beginning in honor of her mother, who had ovarian cancer 30 years ago.

Later, she walked for two other family members who had breast cancer. When Maxwell completed her own surgery for ovarian cancer, she knew where to call for support. She admits that making that first call was hard to do, but with so many fears and emotions weighing her down, she burst into tears the minute she heard a voice on the other end. She said she received comfort, reassurance and valuable information from Support Connection’s peer counselors.

Over the last few years, Maxwell has participated in a support group as well as numerous educational programs, which she said were essential to her throughout her own treatments and recovery.

To give back, Maxwell is a community outreach volunteer for the organization and eager to share information about ovarian cancer to help people learn about the often-subtle symptoms. After going through months of uncertainty herself and with her diagnosis almost being missed, Maxwell said she wants to help other women avoid this.

Maxwell uses her Support-A-Walk fundraising as a way to raise awareness – last year, her team Teal Ribbons raised $2,500. In addition to being a Walk Ambassador, Maxwell was presented with one of Support Connection’s Beacon of Light Awards this year.

“It’s so important to me to promote the Walk so Support Connection can continue the good work they do,” Maxwell said. “Plus, since so many people don’t know much about ovarian cancer, I’m grateful for this chance to be that face, the person they can learn from.”

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