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Gouverneur group helping NNY residents in breast cancer struggles


GOUVERNEUR — Don’t let the name of the Gouverneur Business Women Breast Cancer Walk hold you back from applying for financial support from the organization.

The group is encouraging more residents outside of the village to contribute to the fund or apply for assistance to help get through breast cancer struggles.

“We are finding people will say, ‘I didn’t know you existed’,” said Terry A. Pistolesi, a board member. “We can cover their living expenses if necessary, transportation, child care while in treatment, medical expenses, medications, and car payments. It’s not the same for every individual.”

The group shelled out more than $70,000 this year alone, which was made possible from the walk held this spring in the village, and from many pre-fundraisers and donations from throughout the north country. About $35,000 was divided among 25 women in St. Lawrence County. Five people in Lewis County and 20 in Jefferson County received assistance this year.

Mrs. Pistolesi said she wants to see all numbers increase.

Edwards resident Melissa L. Brown, is one of the recipients. On July 13, 2012 she received the news that she had breast cancer. Two weeks later, she flew to Philadelphia, Pa., to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, for a mastectomy. Against doctor’s orders she flew home the next day to be with a family member.

“The very next day I was parked in my recliner like an old lady, and I’m only 44,” said Ms. Brown, a nurse at Edwards-Knox Central School District. “I felt like the world was coming to an end.”

Then, there was a knock on her door. Too weak to get up, she said, “Come in,” and in walked a representative from the Gouverneur Business Women Breast Cancer Walk. Mrs. Brown said that day, a lot of weight was lifted from her shoulders.

While Ms. Brown said she couldn’t recall the woman’s name, she said she’ll never forget the gifts and love she was showered with. The woman came with a goodie bag full of support items, such as two heart-shaped pillows to place underneath each arm pit to provide comfort near the chest after surgery. Also included was Ms. Brown’s first financial assistance of $250.

“While I thought that was nice and sweet, I was beside myself,” she said. “That began a series of help.”

She said she lost count of the money the group gave her, which went toward her life’s necessitates, including helping to pay for medication co-pays, fuel and utility bills.

She said she is now cancer free. She said she stopped submitting reimbursement items to the group in January.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Pistolesi said it is community organizations and businesses that raise funds which are then distributed among residents from Jefferson, Lewis or St. Lawrence counties who have battled breast cancer.

“As important as research is, when someone is fighting for their life, we try to take that burden away from them,” she said.

People who would like to apply for some of the group’s funds, or to contribute to the cause, may call Mrs. Pistolesi at 287-7639 or visit

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