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November 2016


Why should we make strides anyway?
Cynthia Eaton


TEAM FA at Making Strides 2016
TEAM FA at Jones Beach for Making Strides 2016. Front row: Kai and Micah Tvelia, sons of Sean Tvelia and Cynthia Eaton. Back row, from left: Sean Tvelia, Kevin Peterman, Ellen Schuler Mauk, Kevin McCoy, Anita Greifenstein, Kim Ng Southard, Joan Cook, Lisa Aymong and Cynthia Eaton. Not shown: Bruce Seger. (photo by Jonathan Fickies, NYSUT)

"The corporate pinkification is ridiculous. It's just to sell products."

"Lung cancer has killed thousands more women than breast cancer over the past two decades. Where are those walks?"

"What good does awareness do? Breast cancer rates haven't declined in the last 25 years, despite all these enormous walks."

"What is the American Cancer Society doing with all that money? Is it going toward research? Or going toward putting on these media-happy walks?"

Each year the FA walks in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event at Jones Beach and each year we hear questions and comments about why we walk. If you've paid any attention to the news over the past few years, you're aware that there's a bit of a backlash against walks like Making Strides.

The FA does send a team to Jones Beach each October. While we're cognizant of the concerns of those who question the impact of Making Strides, we believe that it is important to show support for all those who have been affected by this disease. Our statewide union, New York State United Teachers, also supports Making Strides—in part because women make up 75% of NYSUT's membership:

NYSUT has been a flagship sponsor of the American Cancer Society event since 2002, and the efforts of the union and its members have generated support, energy, awareness, volunteers and more than $12 million during that time to fight the disease with research, information, services and access to mammograms for women who need them.

The American Cancer Society offers information about the impact of their fundraising efforts.

But, for us, the reason why we walk tends to be personal. We have a good number of members tell us that they know someone who has been affected by breast cancer, which makes sense because Long Island has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the nation.

Anita Greifenstein speaks
Anita Greifenstein speaks to the crowd of walkers at Making Strides of Eastern Long Island on October 23, 2016. (photo Victoria Pendzick)

For example, last fall our FA office manager, Anita Greifenstein, was diagnosed with breast cancer and has had to undergo months of chemotherapy and radiation. Thankfully early detection due to regular mammograms have enabled her to better deal with this devastating disease.

As for the walks? At the Eastern Campus Making Strides event this year, Anita gave a speech before the walk, with the SCCC cheer team standing behind her on stage. After she finished, she saw several members of the SCCC cheer team hugging a cheerleader who was crying. They called Anita over. The 20 year old had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and was facing a double lumpectomy within the next week. Anita offered the student lots of hugs, support and advice, then jogged off to catch up with her team of walkers.

This is why we walk.

It's not about the pink. It's about the people.