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Rose of Hope Luncheon raises nearly $524,000 to support breast cancer care for the underserved

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bridgeport, CT – Bridgeport Hospital’s Norma Pfriem Breast Center has announced proceeds of nearly $524,000 from its June 11 Rose of Hope Luncheon in Fairfield, the largest amount raised since the annual event was launched in 2000. Nearly 600 people attended the luncheon, which supports the center’s programs and services for underserved women. The event also celebrated the center’s 15th anniversary.

The keynote speaker was TV personality Joan Lunden, who marked her first year as a breast cancer survivor. After undergoing a routine mammogram last year, Lunden said she remembered a recent interview she did with a breast cancer expert about difficulties in diagnosing cancer in women with dense breasts. This led her to ask her doctor to prescribe a follow-up ultrasound exam, which detected her cancer.

“Early detection saved my life,” she told the audience. “We cannot be afraid to see a doctor and undergo regular health screenings.”

“My cancer journey challenged me, changed me and taught me so much about the healing power of support,” Lunden said. “But I hear from women all the time who are alone. That’s why events like the Rose of Hope Luncheon are so important – the money raised here today will go to those who need it the most.”

In a June 15 note to Donna Twist, PhD, the breast center’s executive director, Lunden wrote, “As someone who hears daily about the obstacles that so many women face in their battle with breast cancer, I loved hearing that the Norma Pfriem Breast Center, an organization in my own home state, is doing so much for women and families in need.”

Continuing a Rose of Hope Luncheon tradition, the audience also heard from a breast center patient or patient’s family member. This year it was Loryne Atoui-Laham, founder and managing director of One Wig Stand, a Lebanon-based organization dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer and supporting young women with the disease.

Atoui-Laham’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, just as war broke out in Lebanon. She and her family fled the country for the United States, where the breast center took over her care.

“The Norma Pfriem Brest Center welcomed us with open arms,” Atoui-Laham said. “To this day, we have not forgotten the outstanding care and treatment my mother received. Everyone at the center, from the doctors to the nurses and staff, became my family and friends.”

Another highlight of the luncheon was the presentation of the 2015 Rose of Hope Award to WPLR radio personality Mike Lapitino, who has provided nearly $200,000 in support to the breast center through the golf tournament he launched 14 years ago.

For the fifth year, the Rose of Hope Luncheon was co-chaired by Twist and breast center president’s council and advisory board members Linda Blackwell and Daneen Grabe.

Cindy Citrone of Southport and Kim Meier of Westport served as special program chairs. The event was sponsored by John and Connie DeMattia and the DeMattia Family Foundation. Merrill Lynch Wealth Management was the lead corporate event sponsor. For the 11th consecutive year, the event was held at Greenfield Hill home of Tom and Patti Keegan.

Since it opened its doors in 1999, the Norma Pfriem Breast Center has served more than 30,000 women from its three locations at Bridgeport Hospital, Fairfield and Trumbull. In addition to its comprehensive breast care program, the center provides innovative outreach programs, health and wellness programs, psychosocial support and access to clinical trials. The center’s Medically Underserved Initiative, the largest of its kind in the area, offers financial assistance to over 1,000 uninsured and underinsured women each year.

“We are so grateful for all the help we have received through the years,” Twist said about the center’s supporters. “We couldn’t have done it without them. We look forward to a bright future, perhaps one without breast cancer.”

Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health, is a non-profit 501-bed acute care hospital with two campuses (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale New Haven Children's Hospital). Its Bridgeport and Milford Campuses serve patients from across the region. The hospital admits more than 23,000 patients and provides nearly 350,000 outpatient treatments annually. The Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital is the only burn center in the state and one of only 64 verified burn centers in the United States. Bridgeport Hospital is committed to providing safe, compassionate and cost efficient care to its patients and the community.