Community Spotlight: NYCM Employees Make Strides Against Breast Cancer - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Oct 22, 2021

Community Spotlight: NYCM Employees Make Strides Against Breast Cancer


Advocating for charitable causes is something NYCM employees are passionate about. Each October, NYCM Insurance sponsors and assembles a team to participate in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event held in Utica, New York! Continue reading to learn more about Making Strides and what this event means to some of our most passionate striders!

What is Making Strides? 

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is an annual walk hosted by the American Cancer Society to raise funds and unite communities in the fight against this life-changing disease. Making Strides is currently the largest network of breast cancer awareness events in America. They raise millions of dollars each year to help fund groundbreaking breast cancer research as well as provide patient services, like free rides to chemo, free lodging near treatment locations, and live 24/7 cancer helplines. Based on research data, it is estimated that over 281,000 people will be diagnosed with an invasive form of breast cancer in the year 2021 alone, making their efforts even more important.

A Place of Support 

For Wendy Kilty of our Financial Services Team, the Making Strides event is a time to gather with other survivors, and to remember those we have lost to this heart-breaking disease. 

“I’ve been participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk since I was first diagnosed in 2014,” Wendy explained. “Breast Cancer turns your life upside down when you are first diagnosed. Two years after my remission, I had a recurrence. You never think it’s going to be you who gets diagnosed, but in reality, anyone can get breast cancer. Through all the pain and worry, you must be strong, fight hard, and always stay positive.”  Making Strides Against Breast Cancer offers a place of support for those who are survivors and for those who are currently going through treatment. 

Cancer Doesn’t Define You

To Bridgette Crawford of our Project Management Team, the Making Strides Walk represents an opportunity for individuals to come together to acknowledge the impact that breast cancer has had on their lives. “It is inspiring to surround myself with people who have gone through a similar experience. This will be the second year that I’ve participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Utica. I think the most important thing to remember is that cancer, no matter the form - does not define you,” says Bridgette. “My diagnosis was difficult, and when I look in the mirror, although my reflection is different than it was, I am the same person, if not a little stronger.”

A Family History 

Tracy Gaisford of our Auto Claims Team says that she is grateful for Making Strides and events like it that are out there. “Anything that brings attention to breast cancer, how common it is, and how important early detection is, is very important to me,” she says. “This awful disease has been a consistent part of my life since I was young. My first experience with breast cancer was with my grandmother who passed away shortly after her diagnosis. The memories I have of her in the hospital are not the fondest. 

Then when I was in my 30's my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily, after chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, she went into remission and has remained there for the last 15 years. Then, in September 2018 at 48 years old, I was diagnosed.”  Tracy explains that even though she knew deep down that due to her family history it could happen to her too, she didn’t want to believe it. “Thankfully, after many chemotherapy treatments, a bilateral mastectomy, 30 radiation treatments and breast reconstruction, I’m feeling pretty good!” 

Tracy states that she was working part-time during her treatment and that it led her to miss a lot of work. Although this added stress to an already stressful situation, she shares how thankful she was to have support. “One of the things that stands out to me the most is how caring and generous both my NYCM community and my local Oneonta community were to me and my family. NYCM ran a basket raffle fundraiser for my family, which ended up raising over $3,000. I also had many meals sent over from my friends at NYCM. My friends in Oneonta organized a "food train," and for an entire month, meals were delivered to my house every few days. It was such a relief to not have to worry about shopping or cooking during the time that I was going through chemo and not feeling well. I will never forget that generosity, and it has made me want to pay it forward to those who might be going through the same thing.”

To learn more about Making Strides Against Breast Cancer or about donating to the cause, check out this link!