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Rockville Centre Breast Cancer Coalition going strong amid pandemic

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As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, the Rockville Centre Breast Cancer Coalition will not host its annual Black & White Cocktail Party fundraiser, but its services to those with breast cancer have continued.

Last year, the big event, at EGP Oceanside, drew more than 400 people and raised about $35,000, which benefited breast cancer patients and survivors on Nassau County’s South Shore.

“We’re in a good spot,” said Peg McDonald, co-president of the coalition. “We just want people to know that we’re still here and available to them for services.”

McDonald said that all fundraising is now on the back burner, even virtually, because she knows businesses are hurting. Instead, the coalition has decided to make this month, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a “give back” month as it focuses on supporting those affected by the disease.

Board members have hung pink bows, symbols of breast cancer awareness, downtown. They also plan to co-host free cancer screenings at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital, in Oceanside, on Oct. 25, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those who would like to schedule an appointment can call (516) 255-8220 and mention the event, which is also being sponsored by State Sen. Todd Kaminsky.

Michael’s Jewelry Designs, on North Park Avenue in the village, designed a custom necklace for the coalition, and a portion of the proceeds for every one sold this month will go to the organization. “We were more than happy to do something for the coalition,” said owner Michael Zuckerman. “We came up with the idea to design a special heart that would be only theirs.”

The last large event the coalition held was its annual fashion show, on March 1, at the Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park, which celebrated patients and survivors, who became runway models for a day. McDonald said that the organization would re-evaluate the coronavirus situation early next year and then decide whether to hold the show next March.

McDonald and Co-president Erin O’Sullivan created the coalition in January 2017 to support breast cancer patients in the community. Both have lost loved ones to the disease, and know the toll it can take on people. The services the organization provides help alleviate both the financial and emotional stress that come with a diagnosis.

“Unfortunately, there’s still women getting diagnosed,” McDonald said, “and our care counseling services are the heart and soul of the coalition.”

The all-volunteer organization offers patients access to care counselors — breast cancer survivors who offer confidential advice — and provides outreach services that include meal delivery, child care, housecleaning, transportation and wellness services as well as financial assistance if it is needed.

Breast cancer patients find the coalition through advertisements, friends, family and social media, according to McDonald. “We have a strict privacy policy,” she said, “and while we might want to reach out to a recipient, our policy is that they contact us.”

The organization supports those undergoing treatment in nearly 40 villages and hamlets across southern Nassau County. “The coalition is so important to the community,” McDonald said. “When a woman or man is diagnosed, their world is upside down. They need all the support they can get. We want to be the coalition that provides that support.”

To learn more about the coalition, visit rvcbcc.org.