‘Women Strong’ raises $3,000 to support cancer survivors and patients

‘Women Strong’ raises $3,000 to support cancer survivors and patients

Event volunteers from left, Sharon Steeves of Blackstone, Mass., Sherice Riel of Woonsocket, Stephanie Saraidarian of Milford, Mass., Tammy Roy of Woonsocket, Donna Verrier of Whitinsville, Mass., Sheri Delisle of Woonsocket and Nicole Brien, of Woonsocket, are pictured next to some of the raffle items available at last week’s Women Strong event to benefit the Gloria Gemma Foundation. Roy and Brien are breast cancer surviors who spoke at this and previous events. Delisle organized the event. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)

WOONSOCKET – Tammy Roy has been living with stage four metastatic breast cancer for six years, but she doesn’t let that hold her back. The city resident and mom has a busy schedule between her appointments, social plans and taking care of her family, not to mention her many speaking engagements with the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.

Roy shared her story at the Women Strong event at the Woonsocket Elks Lodge last Thursday, Oct. 3. The event, now in its third year, raises funds for the Gloria Gemma Foundation to provide services to breast cancer patients and survivors and their families.

Sheri Delisle, the city resident behind the event, has been running fundraisers for the Gloria Gemma Foundation for the past nine years. Breast cancer awareness, she said, has always been very near to her heart. In addition to raising funds, the events provide a forum for women to gather and share their stories with the community.

“There’s just something that really speaks to the community,” she said. “We’ve had families be really affected by it.”

Roy explained how she was first diagnosed at the age of 29. Though she wasn’t initially involved with the Gloria Gemma Foundation, she later decided to carry a torch in the Flames of Hope celebration as a breast cancer survivor. During her treatment for stage four, she said, she’s been connected to a support network that has gone above and beyond to make her feel a part of the Gloria Gemma family.

“One day I was sick, I couldn’t go to the Christmas party, so they had Santa come to my house with gifts for Mia,” she said, referring to her nine-year-old daughter.

Nicole Brien, a fellow breast cancer survivor who was the featured speaker at last year’s event, also shared her experience with the foundation. When she was diagnosed at ages 31 and 33, she said, there wasn’t much of a conversation around young women dealing with breast cancer. She was one of the first members of Gloria Gemma’s young survivors’ group for younger women to share their experiences.

“These types of events are what continue the programs for Tammy and I,” she said.

Thursday’s event included raffles, food, vendors and a speaking program. By the end of the night, it had raised a little more than $3,000 for the foundation. It also served another purpose. Citing higher-than-average cancer rates, Brien noted the importance of spreading cancer awareness in the city and encouraging women to get screenings. Delisle shared her concern, pointing out it takes an entire community to meet the needs patients and survivors might have.

“Doing things like this as a community, it just really raises the bar to make sure people like Tammy and Nicole are taken care of,” she said.