I remembered the first time that I met two-time breast cancer survivor Maggie Gardner. It was at one of the Caribbean Trade Council events here in Connecticut where she had a exhibition table filled with photos and pamphlets advertising, Gardner’s House, Inc. Gardner’s House, is an advocacy group that Maggie created and ran out of her private home for the last several years, until recently. When she had her official opening at her new office space located at 1229 Albany Avenue in Hartford last week I attended to support her.
Gardner’s House is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to offering cost-free supportive services to low income cancer patients and their families throughout Greater Hartford. She started the organization after she was diagnosed for a second time with breast cancer.
”My cancer recurred at a bad time in my life. I felt as if I’d lost everything. My husband literally walked out, leaving me to face the challenges of cancer largely alone. I had lost a dear hospice patient, my home, and my friends,” Gardner said. “It was a depressing time. The stress took its toll on my body and my mind.” via SusanKomenCT
In short the former nursing assistant was left to face her second bout of cancer, friendless, jobless, nearly homeless and insurance less. As we talked at her opening, she shared the frustrations that she endured as she tried (while she was undergoing her treatment, mind you) to find resources to cover the cost of her treatment, for respectable and decent (not rat, roach, and drugs infested) affordable housing in the City and resources to cover the cost of medications. She mentioned that at one point she found an organization that provided financial assistance for other terminally ill patients in Connecticut but without avail. After she joined a support group at St. Francis hospital in Hartford, she realized that her experience was not unique and thus, the idea for Gardner’s House was born. She offers support (sometimes paying the rent for others from funds derived from private donations) and friendship to other cancer patients whose experience are similar to hers.
For her efforts, she was honored with the 2009 Nancy Pilver Heroine award by Rep. John B. Larson of Connecticut. She also received the 2011 Phoenix Award and received a citation from former City of Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez.
As she continues to build her advocacy group, Maggie is still dealing with the spector of her own experience. She has undergone 8 reconstructive surgeries for her breasts. To make sure her cancer remains in remission, every 6 months she goes through an MRI (her tumor did not show up in radiology scans) and does a blood count. She also says that every now and then she feels depressed, a feeling she says is sometime worse than the cancer itself, but credits her advocacy work and the support of her close friends for putting her back on track.
On Saturday October 20, 2012, Maggie will be hosting her Pretty In Pink Fundraiser Ball in Hartford. For more information, please call (860) 206-7754. Connecticut based designer Nigel Ramsay will also be donating partial proceeds from his October 27, 2012 runway show and breast cancer awareness benefit to Gardner’s House, Inc.
No word better describes the women who have been touched by breast cancer better than Noteworthy. In honor of breast cancer awareness month, Coterie and the esteemed Demeter Fragrance Library created Noteworthy eau de toilette.
Noteworthy is a fruity ﬂoral palette with notes that include Frosted Italian Bergamot, White Jasmine, Blue Iris, Creamy White Rose, Cashmere Musk and White Patchoulii. Noteworthy is:
• 95% from natural ingredients and fragrance oils
• Naturally fermented alcohol
• No artiﬁcial colors, binders or emulsiﬁers
• No synthetic fragrance materials or Phthalates
This fragrance is being sold exclusively on www.coterie.com ($45) through October 31st or while supplies last. For every purchase, Coterie™ and Demeter™ Fragrance Library will make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.