This October, Northwell Health’s Imbert Cancer Center, Southside Hospital, and Great South Bay Imaging will partner with businesses on Main Street from East Islip to Babylon to sponsor Pink by the Bay — a month-long event that will promote breast cancer awareness.
The event is inspired by a similar outreach campaign in Port Jefferson (photo above, video below) held by the Fortunato Breast Health Center at Mather Hospital, called Paint Port Pink.
Pink by the Bay is planned to coincide with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which also takes place in October.
“Northwell Health is proud to sponsor Pink by the Bay to help raise awareness for all those in our communities touched by breast cancer,” Northwell-Southside’s vice president of community relations, Eddie Fraser, told GreaterBayShore.
The organizers said they will begin reaching out to stores and restaurants along Main Street to see if they’d like to get involved.
Although plans aren’t finalized yet, Northwell representatives said participants will be given a starter packet to decorate their storefronts with lights, window decals and pink chalk to decorate window displays. Informational collateral about breast cancer, community groups, and Northwell’s imaging and cancer centers will also be provided.
Dr. Melissa Fana is chief of breast surgery at Southside Hospital and a surgeon at Imbert Cancer Center. Dr. Fana said she wants people to know that there have been great advances in breast cancer surgery.
Dr. Fana has been at Imbert Cancer Center for two years. She went to Stony Brook University for her undergraduate degree and attended medical school at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
“We have better diagnostic tools, better personal targeted treatment, and improving outcomes,” she said.
She also wants to banish any lingering stigma about breast cancer for patients and make them understand that there is a community out there for them.
“Women with any evidence of a lump wouldn’t talk about it years ago,” said Dr. Fana. “The key to successfully treating breast cancer is empowering women. Knowing the facts.”
According to cancer.net, an informational website published through the American Society of Clinical Oncology, breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in women in the U.S.
Since 1989, fatalities due to breast cancer have steadily decreased, which the site attributes to early detection and treatment improvements.
The most current data available provided by Fraser shows that there were 16,359 breast cancer cases reported in New York State in 2015. From 2011- 2015 there was an average of 1,316 cases per year reported in Suffolk County.
Imbert Cancer Center cared for 523 breast cancer patients in 2017 and 2018.
Dr. Fana added that the average American woman has 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer and encourages women of all ages to get a mammogram.
“Mammograms save lives,” she said.
Awareness and education is the crux of what Northwell wants to accomplish with Pink by the Bay.
The organizers want to kick off the month-long event on Tuesday, Oct 1, by simultaneously lighting up Islip and Babylon town halls in pink.
A calendar of mini-events like Wear Pink Day will be completed before October so residents and visitors can get involved and help support the cause.
Northwell’s community relations team will also take part. Led by Fraser and the company’s eastern region executive director, Kevin Beiner, men will be participating in Real Men Wear Pink. They will don pink throughout October to promote breast cancer awareness.
Along with decorations on Main Street businesses, organizers also plan to hang pink bows in the area to bring awareness.
Working with patients and their families, Dr. Fana has found that Long Islanders have a deep appreciation for their communities and that they are happy to give back when called upon.
“They are hard working and really generous, good people,” she said.