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Grass Roots Profile: Support ConnectionYorktown Heights, NY

Support Connection was created by breast cancer survivor Nancy Heller, and Richard Adamski, who lost his wife Myra to breast cancer. At the time of Nancy and Myra’s diagnoses, no local organization existed to provide them with emotional and educational support. When Nancy and Richard met on a bus returning from a cancer walk in Manhattan, a friendship ensued and they began talking about the need for support for people affected by breast and ovarian cancer in Westchester, Putnam and beyond.

In October of 1995, they decided to hold a walk-a-thon at FDR State Park in Yorktown, and gathered a group of dedicated, like-minded supporters to help them. Eight hundred people came that first year, which inspired them to continue. Using the funds from that walk, and with the help of Katherine Quinn (Support Connection’s Founding Executive Director), their non-profit, Support Connection became a reality in July 1996.

They opened their doors with just two desks, a telephone, fax machine, and a donated computer. Initially, there were just two breast and ovarian cancer support groups, run by trained volunteer peer facilitators. The response was immediate as women diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer reached out to them for support.

Over the years, their services have expanded to meet the growing and changing needs of those they serve. They now have professional on-staff peer counselors (cancer survivors themselves), available to answer questions and provide support from their Yorktown Heights office. But they are not limited to service in their own area. A toll-free telephone service enables these counselors to provide phone counseling to people across the country. Support Connection also offers support groups and other programs in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, as well as national toll-free support groups and teleconferences.

All of their services are free of charge and include:

  • One-on-One Peer Counseling, locally and via national toll-free telephone
  • Resource and referral information, locally and via national toll-free telephone
  • Breast and Ovarian Cancer Support Groups, locally and via a national toll-free teleconference
  • Educational and Wellness Programs
  • National toll-free educational teleconferences
  • Newsletters and educational materials
  • A lending library
  • Special events where you can meet other cancer survivors

Their confidential one-on-one peer counseling program provides individualized support, information and resources to those affected by breast and ovarian cancer, including caregivers and family members. Peer counselors provide:

  • Individual counseling
  • Ongoing emotional support
  • Community resources and referrals
  • Information about all of our support services and programs

Support Groups covering a wide range of needs

Support Connection offers 11 different support groups every month. Their in-person groups take place in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. They also offer two groups each month via national toll-free teleconference, making them available regardless of where you live. These groups include:

  • Breast and Ovarian Cancer Support Groups
  • Young Women’s Breast and Ovarian Cancer Support Groups
  • Breast Cancer Support Groups
  • Advanced Stage Cancer Support Group
  • National Toll-Free Telephone Support Group: Ovarian Cancer
  • National Toll-Free Telephone Support Group: Advanced Stage or Metastatic Breast Cancer

Educational and Wellness Programs

Workshops focused on the mind, body and spirit can enhance the quality of life while living with cancer. Additionally, they provide learning opportunities aimed at empowering women to better cope with diagnosis, recovery, treatment and beyond. They create settings for participants to enjoy a relaxing activity with a group of women who have also heard the words, “you have cancer.”

Perhaps Support Connection’s founding members say it best:

As Nancy Heller says, “I am truly proud of what Support Connection has become. There is no other place like it. Because of Support Connection, women do not have to search like I did to seek out support. Support Connection helps survivors reach out and connect with one another – they find others who listen, understand and care. Through our programs, survivors find hope, strength and courage.

Although Richard Adamski’s wife did not survive, he has made sure her memory does, sharing, “My wife’s personal battle with breast cancer and the loving acts of kindness of some very special friends inspired the creation of Support Connection. Today, Support Connection is nurtured by those same friends as well as by a dedicated staff, caring volunteers and a committed Board. Support Connection has given hope and help to so many people and without question, being part of it has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life.”

For more information visit http://supportconnection.org/ or call their toll-free number: 1-800-532-4290.