Former Smithtown schools board president shares story breast cancer story
This story is part of an ongoing series on Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Smithtown Radio continues the focus on Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October with an inspiring story from one of our listeners. You will find it encouraging and helpful.
Breast cancer survivor and Smithtown resident, Carole Gerien, tells her journey of fighting cancer – in her own words:
“I am a six year survivor of breast cancer! Although I have spoken about my experience many times, I have never written about it as my story. I was diagnosed in June of 2005 after finding a lump in my breast myself. It had been seven years since I had seen my doctor or had a mammogram and had excused it away as “I was too busy raising my family to go to the doctor”. The truth was that I was afraid of finding cancer since my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer at the same age as I was during this time. My doctor could not have been kinder to me. He referred me to the Carol Baldwin Breast Care Center at Stony Brook Hospital and I had surgery in mid-July and began chemotherapy at the end of August and finally radiation in January.
My story is not about the doctors or the treatment even though they are the reason I am cancer free. I believe my story is about the community of friends who supported me and my family throughout the time I was undergoing treatment. We go through life knowing we live in a good neighborhood and have good friends and neighbors but until you are faced with an illness like cancer you don’t appreciate what a great community we live in! Our friends and neighbors rallied around us and transported my children to activities and made meals for us so my husband could focus on important issues and I could focus on healing. It was a remarkable time in my life that helped me understand how blessed my family and I are.
The cautionary lesson here is that we should take the time to have our yearly check-ups so that we remain healthy to care for those we love. Also, I recently took the test to determine if my cancer was hereditary and was relieved to find out the test was negative. I was very lucky to have found the lump myself at an early stage and now have yearly mammogram.”
“I thank God everyday for keeping an extra eye on me and blessing me with good health.”
“In the past year and a half I have taken the extra step of staying healthy by losing 55 lbs and seeing my doctors on a yearly basis!
I served for six years on the Smithtown Board of Education and the year I was under going treatment, I served as vice president followed by a year as president! Both years were both challenging and rewarding experiences! In 2006, the [Smithtown] High School [East] Leadership club organized the first American Cancer Society Relay for Life event here in Smithtown and because of my position on the School Board and recent treatment, they asked me to be the honorary speaker. It was a very emotional experience!”
Video Archive: Carole Gerien at the Relay for Life of Smithtown 
Carole Gerien has lived in Smithtown for 27 years. She resides here with her husband and three children. Carole has a degree in elementary education and is a stay at home mom.
Carole’s story is one of courage and awareness. As she indicated, the cautionary message is to get your yearly check-ups!
We rejoice with Carole in her triumph over breast cancer and we encourage others to use Carole’s experience as inspiration to take up the cause of fighting this disease. Exercise control over your own health and see your doctor yearly for examinations and annual testing.
Smithtown Radio has mentioned this routinely - yearly mammograms are an important part of women’s health and Suffolk County makes it easy. The county’s Office of Women’s Services helps women in all walks of life, at all times and passages in their lives. Whether you’re looking for mammogram locations – or info on domestic violence, sexual harassment or legal rights – the Hauppauge office can help. Contact the Office of Women’s Services at (631) 853-8284 or by e-mail at email@example.com. The office is located on the third floor of the H. Lee Dennison Building, located at 100 Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge.
The Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center is also a great resource. Get in touch with the Stony Brook center by calling 631-638-1000.
One important reminder from this testimony is that your friends and neighbors need you! Reach out to them. Try to anticipate the needs of those who are ill or who are going through medical treatments. As Carole mentioned, we are part of a great, supportive community. Rally around those who may need special attention by providing prepared meals, childcare, or a listening ear. Trust me, your own life will be enriched, and our community made stronger, by the part YOU play in the care of friends and neighbors. It really does take a village!