Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney took time out at the beginning of Tuesday's Town Board meeting to share news of a personal nature with residents.
“My favorite color has always been pink,” said King Sweeney, who was indeed dressed in pink at the meeting. “Now, I know why.”
In December, King Sweeney, who represents Bellmore, Merrick, Baldwin, Wantagh and Seaford, explained, she was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram and ultrasound. On Jan. 17, she underwent a successful lumpectomy, and she expects three weeks of radiation treatment to commence once she is fully healed from the operation.
“I consider myself extremely fortunate,” she said. “I am living proof that routine mammograms do make all the difference. Luckily, the cancer was caught very early, and I will make a full recovery.”
King Sweeney said that at the age of 45, with low risk factors, she could well have put off her mammograms, and she wanted to make sure that others like her did not put their health “on the end of the to-do list.”
“I would like to place particular focus on outreach to minority women, who all too often do not have adequate access to health care,” she said. “Simply put, we are all in this together.”
The diagnosis will not affect King Sweeney’s plan to run for re-election, she said, as long as she has the Republican Party’s support. She was first appointed to the Town Board in 2015, and elected after that.
King Sweeney’s father, U.S. Rep. Peter King, tweeted out his support on Tuesday.
“As always, Rosemary and I are so proud of Erin,” he said. “She is a true fighter. Go, Erin! Go Irish!”
In her statement, King Sweeney said that, contrary to some political attacks, her father cares about women’s health care and empowerment, adding that “the last seven weeks have taught me that kindness and decency do matter, and public officials need to start leading with class and dignity.”
During the meeting, Councilman Bruce Blakeman thanked King Sweeney for her “candor and her courage,” while Democratic Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, with whom King Sweeney often spars politically, said she was sorry to hear of the diagnosis.
“I think everybody here will share your advocacy to work in terms of raising awareness and reaching out to try to help those suffering from this disease,” Gillen said.
Town Clerk Sylvia Cabana told King Sweeney that she would like to help with outreach on breast cancer in the town’s Hispanic community.