Page 1


2

OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


3

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


4

TABLE OF CONTENTS

october GUEST COMMENTARY...........................................................................6

30

SPECIAL FEATURE Gifting Hope: Susan Bertrand helps patients persevere.................... 10

Jane Verostek: With each click of the camera, a soul restored ........28

6

'Balance over Burnout': Tips for caregivers ....................30

OUT & ABOUT Fall family fun, grown in CNY.................................................. 14 ON THE COVER Meghan Thomas After medical nightmare, 'spiritual warrior' learns to trust again.............................................................. 19

19

HEALTH I've been told I have dense breasts. Now what?........ 24

24

WBOC LEADING WOMAN Laurie Ucher................................................................................26

INSPIRE Mary Kapfer .............................................................................. 32 IN HER OWN WORDS Sydney Hopkins ...................................................................... 34 UPCOMING EVENTS............................................................................. 36

32

14

MOVERS & SHAKERS.......................................................................... 38

15

34

28

26

OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


5

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


6

GUEST COMMENTARY

Thankful for each day’s fresh start Sherry Tyler

I

am a survivor of breast cancer. For most of my life, I never dreamed that those words would define me. There was no breast cancer in my family, except for my niece. But her mother was adopted, so it was easy to rationalize that hers came from some unknown line in her mother's heritage. Each year, for the past several decades, I have dutifully had a mammogram. A couple times, I needed a needle biopsy for a questionable area (I have "dense breast tissue"), but the results were always negative. So, in 2014, when the radiologist said, "I think we'll need to do a needle biopsy, just to be sure," I figured, OK, again. Afterwards, he said it felt soft, and would probably be negative. But the next morning, the fateful phone call came: "Well, I'm really surprised, but the biopsy shows a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Luckily, though, you chose a 3-D mammogram, or I never would have seen it. It would have been ugly in six months or so." I could hardly believe, could hardly take in, what I was hearing - No, can't be true. How could it be? No history, I feel fine. But here it was - my new reality. I hung up the phone and called my dear friend who had taken me to the biopsy procedure the day before. She had wanted to know. I told her the news and could hardly keep my voice together. Before long, she said, "Why don't we just hang up, and you should have yourself a good cry." Good advice. After a bit, I pulled myself together, and carried on to go to my swim therapy class anyway. I figured a swim might be helpful. Apparently, my news was written all over my face, because my swim companions were more than sympathetic and comforting. And that was the beginning of my "new project," and my learning how supportive and caring good friends and family can be. First came the consultations with the oncologist and the surgeon, then pre-op procedures, surgery to remove the tumor and put in the port for chemotherapy, and then a year of weekly chemotherapy infusions. My good friend and I soon went on a wig shopping venture. Good thing. Within a few weeks of my weekly chemo infusions, I began to lose my hair. But again, friends were so kind - driving me to the infusion sessions, bringing me soup, or cookies, or any number of other care-taking, thoughtful things to ease my journey. Each week I needed to fortify my mental state to undergo the infusion treatments. I played a game with myself. I would tell myself, "OK, we're going into battle. That bag of chemo liquid that will soon be hooked up to your port is just loaded with little invisible soldiers that are going to win the war against those nasty interlopers in your body. You can do this!" Somehow, with the support of good friends, a dear husband and devoted family, I made it through the year of infusions. My hair began to grow back, but curly! Hmmmm - a new me, in so many ways. No more taking life for granted. "Tomorrow isn't a sure thing," my knowing husband has always said. Though I still faced four more years of daily oral chemo, I began to feel more hopeful. Images of a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis came to mind. I passed along my head cover-ups, finally had enough hair to see my hairdresser, and felt such enormous gratitude for the science of the chemo, my doctors and therapists, good friends, and my family and my husband. Though I live with the shadow of the cancer returning (it's always there), yet I rejoice in each day's gift of being given a fresh start, each morning. SWM

SyracuseWomanMag.com contact@syracusewomanmag.com

PUBLISHER

David Tyler dtyler@eaglenewsonline.com

DESIGN

Andrea Reeves

PHOTOGRAPHERS Madelyn Geyer Alice G. Patterson David Tyler

CONTRIBUTORS

Madelyn Geyer Sydney Hopkins Jason Klaiber Heather Shannon Susan Spina

David Tyler Sherry Tyler Emma Vallelunga Jennifer Wing

Cover photo by Alice G. Patterson

ADVERTISING SALES

Renée Moonan Linda Jabbour 315.657.7690 315.657.0849 Rmoonan@eaglenewsonline.com Ljabbour@eaglenewsonline.com

ADVERTISE WITH US

Unlike any other publication in the Syracuse area, our feature articles address major topics that interest local women. Each issue includes articles on health, fashion, fitness, finance, home matters, dining, lifestyle and personal perspectives, as well as a spotlight on local Syracuse women. Ads are due on the 15th of the month prior to publication. The print magazines will be distributed locally in over 350 locations and will be in your inbox electronically by the middle of every month. The publication is available free of charge.

CONTACT OUR HOME OFFICE 315.434.8889 | 2501 James Street, Suite 100, Syracuse, NY 13206

The magazine is published 12 times a year by Community Media Group, LLC and Eagle Publications, 2501 James St., Suite 100, Syracuse, NY 13206 Copyright © 2021 Community Media Group, LLC. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or republished without the consent of the publishers. Syracuse Woman Magazine is not responsible for unsolicited submissions, manuscripts, photos or artwork. All such submissions become the property of Community Media Group, LLC and will not be returned.

Sherry Tyler, 79, of Fayetteville is a survivor of breast cancer. OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


7

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


8

Colonial

LAUNDROMAT Immaculately Clean Laundromats Your Big Quilts & Blankets are No Problem Huge 80lb. Capacity Washers Save Time & Money Make This Year Your Best Year Plenty Of Dryers - No Waiting!

3 5 LO C AT I O N S T O S E R V E YO U B E T T E R 26 Genesee Street • Auburn..........................................Tel: 315-258-9141 24 E. Genesee Street • Baldwinsville.............................Tel: 315-635-6291 8007 State Route 31 • Bridgeport ................................. Tel: 315-633-2063 8313 US Route 11 • Cicero ......................................................................... 8440 Oswego Road • Clay ............................................. Tel: 315-622-4469 13 River Street • Cortland .............................................Tel: 607-758-7830 307 W. Manlius Street • East Syracuse .......................... Tel: 315-431-9453 3606 W. Genesee Street • Fairmount ............................ Tel: 315-701-4483 160 S. Second Street • Fulton ....................................... Tel: 315-598-1755 100 Grand Avenue • Syracuse ....................................... Tel: 315-476-9855 138 N. Exchange Street • Geneva.................................. Tel: 315-781-0901 489 James Street • Syracuse ......................................... Tel: 315-472-9435

408 Oswego Road • Liverpool ....................................... Tel: 315-457-2413 105 W Seneca Street• Manlius ...................................... Tel: 315-682-0785 222 N. Massey Street • Watertown ............................... Tel: 315-779-2266 100 Matty Avenue • Mattydale ..................................... Tel: 315-455-1938 330 Costello Parkway • Minoa ...................................... Tel: 315-656-3321 6131 S. Salina Street • Nedrow ..................................... Tel: 315-214-8760 3 Henderson Street • NY Mills ....................................... Tel: 315-736-5075 500 N. Main Street • North Syracuse ............................. Tel: 315-458-7658 502 Lenox Avenue • Oneida ..........................................Tel: 315-363-0345 65 E. Bridge Street • Oswego ........................................Tel: 315-342-5998

120 Black River Blvd. • Rome ........................................ Tel: 315-281-0014 1805 South Avenue • Syracuse ..................................... Tel: 315-472-6577

Fall Fun in CNY

3901 S. Salina Street • Syracuse.................................... Tel: 315-378-0016 1547 State Street • Watertown ..................................... Tel: 315-786-3998 5864 Thompson Road • Dewitt ..................................... Tel: 315-449-4326 1601 West Genesee Street • Syracuse ........................... Tel: 315-471-7472 16 E. Main Street • Trumansburg .................................. Tel: 607-387-4021 1502 Genesee Street • Utica ......................................... Tel: 315-732-0758 120 E. Fourth Street • Watkins Glen .............................. Tel: 607-535-5534 820 Wolf Street • Syracuse ............................................ Tel: 315-425-0899 59 Central Avenue • Illion ............................................. Tel: 315-894-2737 416 Velasko Road • Western Lights ............................... Tel: 315-475-0864 2685 Erie Drive • Weedsport ......................................... Tel: 315-834-9386

OPEN 24 HOURS

Enjoy!

FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE!

ONE IS TOO MANY in 3 women are dying from cardiovascular disease

Losing even one woman is NOT an option.

Syracuse Go Red for Women Celebration Go Red safely on Thursday, October 21 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The Oncenter Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center

For up-to-date information, visit: SyracuseGoRed.heart.org Go Red for Women is nationally sponsored by:

Locally sponsored by:

Masks will be required at this event Media sponsors:

© Copyright 2021 American Heart Association, Inc. a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. All rights reserved. Go Red for Women is a registered trademark of AHA. The Red Dress Design is a trademark of U.S. DHHS. Unauthorized use prohibited. 12/18DS14279

OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


9

Pamper Yourself...you deserve it ! La Fleur de Beauté A Day Spa

We offer alteration services, shoe dyeing and Touchstone jewelry by Swarovski. We sell top-quality formal wear to fit every budget!

6900 Highbridge Rd., Lyndon Corners, Rt. 92. Fayetteville 315-449-4036  lafleurdayspa.com

$

45

Extreme Manicure & Pedicure

Facial

1st time clients only. Must be 21 years old With coupon. No cash value. Not Valid on prior purchases. Expires 10/30/21 SWMOCT

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

$

85

With coupon. No cash value. Not Valid on prior purchases. Expires 10/30/21 SWMOCT

Facial & Massage

$

125

With coupon. No cash value. Not Valid on prior purchases. Expires 10/30/21 SWMOCT

• bridal gowns • bridesmaid dresses • mother of the bride gowns • first communion dresses • prom/ball gowns • cocktail dresses • floor length gowns • flower girl dresses • headpieces • shawls • shoes • jewelry • handbags

(315) 638.5200 4 West Genesee St., Baldwinsville syracuseblissbridal.com Hours: By appointment for your safety. Please call for an appointment!

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


10

SPECIAL FEATURE

Gifting Hope:

SUSAN BERTRAND HELPS PATIENTS PERSEVERE Jason Klaiber

W

henever someone innocently calls her Maureen by mistake, Susan Bertrand doesn’t mind in the slightest. In fact, she actually quite enjoys hearing the name of her younger sister spoken aloud these days, viewing each utterance as a mini continuation of her legacy. It was shortly before the start of summer in 2001 and soon after the discovery that she was pregnant for the first time that Maureen Humphrey was unexpectedly diagnosed with clear-cell adenocarcinoma, a type of cervical cancer. Later that same month, she underwent a radical hysterectomy involving the removal of 28 lymph nodes, knowing by then that she would no longer be able to either carry her yet-to-be-born child or ever conceive again. Still, her hope never dwindled. Within the year, Maureen began looking into adoption with her husband Shawn and she even found herself able to return to work as a human resource coordinator for the C&S Companies in Syracuse. By the beginning of 2002 though, concerns resurfaced when she began to feel an ache in her lower back. As her oncologist’s MRI machine would reveal, that dull, worsening pain was the result of a tumor. Rounds of chemotherapy and radiation ensued at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, but her family members never left her side, remaining as positive as possible at her urging.

A fundraising raffle held to pay for her medical expenses ended up bringing in about $25,000, but before the scheduled prize drawing and the awarding of that collected money, Maureen died in January 2003 at the age of 31. A portion of the funds went instead toward the building of a playground at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central New York, and the rest was used as seed money for Maureen’s Hope Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that Susan started in her sister’s honor in 2004. “When you are going through difficult times and grief, the best thing you can do is give some purpose to your pain,” Bertrand said. At first, she and a group of volunteers were mainly delivering individualized gift baskets to area patients of all ages who had been battling cancer. These packages would often contain water bottles, blankets, lip balm and lotions for post-radiation moisturizing. If a patient loved fishing, for example, angling magazines would be included. “Sometimes they just need to know that there are people who care about them,” Bertrand said. “The focus is truly on the little things that we can do to help bring them comfort and joy.” While running the foundation out of her basement and still coping with her sister’s death, Bertrand decided to turn to cycling as a continual outlet. Continued on page 14

Maureen’s Hope Foundation was founded by Susan Bertrand in 2004 to provide support on an emotional level to various hospital patients.

OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


11

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E SYR SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


12

SPECIAL FEATURE

Gifting Hope from page 9 She eventually embarked on what she intended would be a 100-mile bike ride as part of Livestrong Challenge Philly in August 2010. Coming up on a hill amidst a torrential downpour, Bertrand hit a pothole and was propelled off the road in the middle of the race. She struck a tree and slammed into a cement boulder, later landing in the trauma center with a Grade 4 liver laceration. She was placed in a medically induced coma and given last rites, but she came to in less than three weeks - indication of a miracle to her, the surrounding doctors and her husband, Ron, who had previously been told to wish her goodbye. Today she views that brush with death and her year-long rehabilitation as crucial parts of her journey. “That experience in my life truly gave me an understanding of the physical pain that people go through,” Bertrand said. With the help of meditation, yoga and acupuncture, she summoned the resolve to return to the Livestrong Challenge and later the PanMass Challenge, which she raced in alongside players from the Boston Bruins ice hockey team. Now operating Maureen’s Hope out of a Baldwinsville office,

OC TOBER 2021

she channels into its mission her memories of overcoming that adversity, a perspective that lends itself to the empathy she feels for families dealing with loss, just as she did when Maureen passed away. To help maintain a connection between patients and their family members during a prolonged hospital stay, the grassroots foundation offers a pediatric program called You and Me Bears, named after a 2009 song by one of Maureen’s favorite groups, the Dave Matthews Band. Supported by the band’s charity, the Bama Works Fund, this program allows the patient to hold onto a handmade emotional

SU RVIVORS EDITION


13

support teddy bear while their family can keep a matching one at home. Maureen’s Hope also steers a year-round Beads of Courage program, which provides children fighting life-altering diseases with beads strung together on a leather cord. Often akin to mile markers, each bead stands for something different. One symbolizes the completion of 100 rounds of chemo. Another in the shape of a heart signifies a blood transfusion. Some kids hang their beads proudly on their IV pole, while others comfortably wear them as necklaces. All of the beads, however, represent a tangible record of courage and the hurdles the children have prevailed over one by one. “When you see pictures of the kids holding their beads, I think the visual of that is so powerful,” Bertrand said. About six years ago, Maureen’s Hope started the corresponding Carry a Bead program, which has seen professional, collegiate and high school athletic squads as well as musical artists like the Zac Brown Band and John Mayer wear beads and write personal notes

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

for hospitalized children as gestures of encouragement. “It’s human solidarity at its finest,” Bertrand said. “It makes the kids feel they are not in their fight alone, and the value of that is priceless.” SWM For more about Maureen Humphrey’s story and the namesake foundation’s multiple programs, visit maureenshope.org.

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


14

OUT & ABOUT

Fall family fun, grown in CNY Jennifer Wing

T

here’s always plenty to do in Central New York in the fall – with fall festivals and apple picking, as well as wineries, cideries and breweries throwing open their doors for tastings, live music and other events. But let’s get down to the meat of the autumn season – pumpkin picking and the activities surrounding those orange globes of goodness. From Cazenovia to Camden, Marietta to Manlius, pumpkins seem to reign the region in autumn. And so it should be. There’s nothing like packing up the family and heading out to search through the tangle of vines for that perfectly-sized and shaped orb, still warm from the sun, then bringing it home to suit your various fall fun needs – whether to decorate a front porch, serve as a (safely done) basis for your family’s Jack-O-Lantern carving contest or to create a delicious filling for that traditional fall favorite - pumpkin pie. You can even try the recipe below for roasted pumpkin seeds a simple, delicious snack. Even the car ride to the pumpkin patch is pleasant, as it is usually taken through winding roads lined by trees with leaves of gold, crimson and every shade of SU’s athletic teams’ signature color imaginable. The smell and crunch of the leaves beneath your feet, the breeze that shakes the branches overhead and the sound of the children laughing as

OC TOBER 2021

they run through the rows – all meld together in a kaleidoscope that harks back to a simpler time, with a basic goal of picking the perfect pumpkin that can only be found after a thorough search and careful consideration. These farms aren’t just about pumpkins, either – there are other attractions, such as hayrides, pet-able animals, food, refreshments and corn mazes to keep the fun going, even after you’ve made your “pick.” Included below is a list of local farms that have many such activities – give them a call or visit their websites for hours, directions and other details. In this age of technology, which seems to divide family time into moments between binge watching television shows or checking cell phones for notifications, this oasis of family togetherness is special, priceless, necessary even, a reminder of what is important and vital in our lives – the connections we make with each other by sharing the simple things – moments when we put that technology aside and enjoy time with those we love. Ah, bliss ... that time when, for an hour or two, the family is together, just enjoying the outdoors and each other’s company. You can’t put a price tag on that kind of memory, so therefore, pound for pound, that pumpkin you picked is priceless. SWM

SU RVIVORS EDITION


15

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

WHERE TO GO:

Ingredients 1 ½ cups raw whole pumpkin seeds 2 tsp butter, melted 1 ⁄8 tsp salt Directions Preheat oven to 300°F. Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.

Abbott Farms 3275 Cold Springs Road Baldwinsville 315-638-7783 abbottfarms.com

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

CNY pumpkin patches, farms

Cicero "Pumkin" Patch 7169 Island Road, Cicero 315-699-2200 ciceropumkinpatch.com Critz Farms 3232 Rippleton Road, Cazenovia 315-662-3355 info@critzfarms.com critzfarms.com

Navarino Orchard 3655 Cherry Valley Tpke. Syracuse 315-673-9181 Facebook.com/NavarinoOrchard-94081824018/ Our Farm 1590 Peth Road, Manlius 315-655-8453 jimmygolub@aol.com our-farm.squarespace.com Springside Farm 1850 Route 91, Fabius 315-683-5860 springsidefarm.net springsidefarm@aol.com

Tim's Pumpkin Patch 2901 Rose Hill Rd., Marietta 315-673-9209 Erica@timspumpkinpatch.com

timspumpkinpatch.com The Pumpkin Hollow 3735 W. Seneca Tpke, Syracuse 315-200-4888 info@thepumpkinhollow.com

thepumpkinhollow.com Will’s Cackleberry Castle Pumpkin Farm 1175 Hillsboro Rd,, Camden 315-245-0104 cackleberrycastle.com

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


16

ALICE PATTERSON FULL PAGE AD

OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


17

Celebrating over 12 years as a Medicare specialist Medicare consultation & enrollment services

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


18

STICKLEY FULL PAGE AD

OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


19

COVER STORY

MEGHAN THOMAS

After medical nightmare, ‘spiritual warrior’ learns to trust again

Photo by Alice G. Patterson

Emma Vallelunga

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


20

COVER STORY

MEGHAN THOMAS After medical nightmare, ‘spiritual warrior’ learns to trust again Emma Vallelunga

She said they told her they removed 1 foot of her small intestine in the surgery, and they confirmed that she did not have Crohn’s Disease. Her intuition told her that already, but she was 22, and they were the doctors, who said the surgery was “exploratory.” “I never met anyone with it, and I never heard about it,” she said. “I remembered telling the surgeon that I don’t think I have Crohn’s Disease, but in that moment, I handed my power over to the doctor.” Something was wrong with her body from the beginning. Thomas spent the next year in and out of the hospital, malnourished and too sick to keep food in her stomach. “I was literally wasting away,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

A

fter her first consultation with CNY Fertility more than a year ago, Meghan Thomas walked to the parking lot, crying. She wasn’t ready for another surgery — not after what happened the last time. But despite the loss of her father, mysteries of her body and traumas of a botched surgery that resulted in years of distrust, she sees herself more as a guiding light than just a survivor. And no matter what happened to her in the past, her next path in life is motherhood. Thomas is a self-employed, certified yoga instructor and fertility coach with Fertile Spirit, a fertility support clinic in partnership with CNY Fertility. While she’s currently undergoing her own fertility treatments with the clinic, she’s also re-launching the Intuitive Fertility Community, her own online support group, this month after re-assessing the group’s needs from its original launch in January. When Thomas was five years old, her father died of a heart attack. From then on, she realized life promised no guarantees for how long you’re here for. She realized that fact again when her lung collapsed at 16. Her medical history, which included pain in her lungs and back shoulder during her menstrual cycle, wasn’t properly considered by her doctors at the time. A collapsed lung would usually be associated with patients who were tall, thin, athletic and male. Nevertheless, that was her first surgery and her first step into the medical world. Shortly after she graduated from the University of Buffalo in 2005, Thomas was rushed to the emergency room. She said doctors misdiagnosed her with Crohn’s Disease, and through the misdiagnosis, Thomas was operated on.

OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


21

Ten months later, her other lung collapsed, which required another surgery. Ten days passed, and she flew to Minnesota to receive treatment at the Mayo Clinic. There, she said they discovered that what was taken from her digestive tract was much more than what she told. She was missing closer to 4.5 feet of her small intestine, her ileocecal valve, five lymph nodes and her appendix. The Mayo Clinic doctors gave her multiple medications to keep her nourished until she was healthy enough to go home. “When I came back from there, I felt like I had been given a second chance at life,” she said. That was one of the reasons she started her own wedding photography business soon after that. She focused on helping clients capture that special moment in their lives, empathizing with them more after realizing,

again, that life was too short when she had nearly lost her own. In 2013, Thomas’ photography business spiked, but by the end of the biggest wedding season of her career, she was miserable. “My equation was, money equaled success, which equaled happiness,” she said. “But all of a sudden, I had made all this money, and I wasn’t happy.” Her answer spoke to her in a dream. She was told to “contact Bonita,” someone she did know but hadn’t seen in years. She couldn’t remember a last name, but Thomas knew the woman lived in Skaneateles, and so she reached out. Bonita Shear, 76, is a spiritual healer who teaches yoga and performs healing treatments with essential oils. When Thomas was sick after her stomach surgery, Shear was called by Thomas’

minister to make a couple hospital calls. She learned about Thomas’ surgery, her lungs collapsing, and her father’s passing and saw that Thomas’ spiritual energy - her Chi - was “beyond awful.” When the two reconnected eight years later, and Thomas told Shear about her dream, Shear knew it was a sign. “She came up my stairs, and I said, ‘We’re going to work together on every level,’” Shear said. “After a year, she took the reins very quickly.” Shear introduced Thomas to Kundalini yoga, taught her healthier eating habits and connected her to other healers in the area. Doing yoga and changing her diet helped Thomas wane off every medication she was on except one. Continued on page 2

Photo by Alice G. Patterson

“I became much more conscious of what my body and my intuition was telling me, and once I had the knowledge for myself and as I continued to learn, I just wanted to share it with everyone I could.” - Meghan Thomas

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


22

COVER STORY

After medical nightmare, ‘spiritual warrior’ learns to trust again from page 21 “It was from that moment that everything changed,” Thomas said. “I became much more conscious of what my body and my intuition was telling me, and once I had the knowledge for myself and as I continued to learn, I just wanted to share it with everyone I could.” Shear watched how Thomas made yoga and healthy eating work for her, listened to her body and became certified as an instructor. She strived to learn everything. “That’s the quality of a really exceptional teacher,” Shear said. With her body stronger, Thomas wanted to begin her fertility journey, but after initially deciding not to have children with her husband of 11 years, and now being in her late-30s, she needed some medical help. But this journey wasn’t about survival anymore — it was about the desire to be a mom. “I don’t have to do all these things to my body to survive,” Thomas said. “The greatest hurdles that I’ve had to overcome is to ask doctors for help, learn how to trust my own body and stay in power that entire time.” While working with the clinic, Thomas also learned her lung complications were a rare symptom of endometriosis, which further explained the strange menstrual symptoms she had since she was a teenager. “Now I understand it, but truly, if you asked me that a year ago, I would’ve never known,” Thomas said.

OC TOBER 2021

When the clinic recommended she have another surgery to not only confirm her diagnosis and remove some endometriosis but also remove any scar tissue from her small bowel resection, Thomas still held a deep distrust for doctors. She began fertility treatments with the clinic for the next two years, electing not to have the surgery right away. But one day, another sign appeared. Thomas met another woman at a hair salon who not only had endometriosis in her lungs and was also going to CNY Fertility like her but was also pregnant. It was enough to convince Thomas to book the surgery for April and commit to it, even when it was postponed until August because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing her biggest fear alone, as she tried to fight the anesthesia on the operating table, her doctor placed his hand on hers and told her everything was going to be OK. In that moment, she told him she trusted him, and it was the truth. Thomas said whether the surgery helps her conceive didn’t matter in the end. “It was about learning to trust again, learning to surrender and having faith,” she said. “Just because this terrible thing happened to me doesn’t mean it will happen to me again.” Instead of focusing on how far she’s come, Thomas would rather spend her energy helping those who can’t persevere through life’s challenges. To Shear, Thomas is more than a survivor. “Meghan has elevated herself to know that these were her spiritual challenges,” Shear said. “If you don’t embrace the lesson, you suffer more, and that’s what Meghan has learned to do. She’s a spiritual warrior.” SWM

SU RVIVORS EDITION


23

"Who's in YOUR corner?"

Commercial Insurance Personal Insurance Group Benefits Risk Management

CHInsurance.cc

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

315-234-7500 SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


24

HEALTH

I’ve been told I have dense breasts. Now what? Heather Shannon, MS, CNM, WHNP, MPH

Y

ou just got call from your provider who informed you that your mammogram is normal, but you have dense breasts and should have additional imaging. Immediately a series of questions race through your mind: ‘What does that mean? Should I be worried? Does this increase my risk for cancer? I always thought my breasts were firm and heavy. Is that why I have dense breasts?’ Let’s get familiar with dense breasts and what it means for you.

What are dense breasts?

To help understand dense breasts, let’s discuss our breast tissue make up. According to Breastcancer.org, normal breast tissue composition can be fibrous or connective tissue, glandular tissue and fatty tissue. A woman who has dense breast tissue has more fibrous and glandular tissue than fatty tissue. We also call this type of tissue, fibroglandular. You may have heard of this before. Fibroglandular tissue is normal and not considered a medical condition. You cannot feel dense breast tissue with your hands nor is it determined by the heaviness or firmness of your breasts. This type of tissue is can only be seen on mammogram. When you have dense breast tissue, it is difficult for the mammogram rays to penetrate or see through the entire breast. What does that mean? Dense breast tissue may hide small cancer masses reducing early detection of breast cancer. It does not mean you have breast cancer nor does it cause breast cancer. It means it is harder to detect potential cancer masses with mammogram alone. In addition, the denser your breast tissue is, the greater the chance a cancer can be missed. When your provider gets the mammogram report, it will grade the denseness of your breasts and if you have dense breast, your provider will discuss options to any additional testing needed.

How does the radiologist know how to grade your breasts?

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI, 2021), breast thickness or density is measured through a mammogram base on images and is categorized by the American College of Radiology as Breast Imaging Reporting And Data System (BI-RADS). The radiologist uses this to categorize the level of density and abnormal findings and rates them from A-D: See Figure 1.

Dense breast tissue is seen as white areas on a mammogram, where fatty tissue is seen as dark areas. For about half of women, screening mammograms show they have breast tissue that is categorized as dense. Dense breast tissue can obscure breast cancers on a mammogram and increases the chance that it might be missed. A score of C or D are classified as having dense breasts. The radiologist makes the classification or a judgment call, which could be different from another radiologist reading the report. For this reason, many breast imaging centers will use additional software to assist with evaluating breast density.

Who is at risk for dense breasts?

Women who are premenopausal, on hormone therapy or have a lower body mass index (BMI) tend to have denser breasts compared to women who are postmenopausal and have children. This does not mean that if you are on hormones, you will automatically develop dense breasts. It does mean it is important that you continue with your breast health by doing regular self breast exams, completing an annual clinical breast exam by your health care provider and getting your mammogram, age appropriate. One question you might have is does dense breasts make it harder for you to feel abnormal lumps. The answer is no. You will be able to feel abnormal lumps when you do your breast exam. Remember, the only way to know if you have dense breasts is through mammogram screening. If you have dense breasts, talk to your doctor to discuss your individual risk level based on the amount of dense tissue you have and the necessary monitoring needed. Keep in mind, other breast cancer risk factors such as your personal health history and family history of breast cancer are important to consider. SWM Heather Shannon is a certified nurse midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner at Oswego County Opportunities. She has a master of science and a master of public health degree.

Figure 1. From Left to Right: BI-RADS categories A through D A) Mostly fatty (10% women): The breasts contain very little fibrous and glandular tissue and are primarily made out of fat. B) Scattered fibroglandular densities (40% women): The breasts are mostly fatty tissue, but there are a few areas of fibrous and glandular tissue visible on the mammogram. C) Heterogeneously dense (40% women): A mammogram shows many areas of fibrous and glandular tissue. D) Extremely dense (10% women): The breasts have large amounts of fibrous and glandular tissue. (Breast cancer.org)

OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


25

ST CAMILLUS #1 1/4 PAGE AD

FAMILY NURSE PRACTIONER/ PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT NEEDED IMMEDIATELY! FULL-TIME POSITION EASTERN FINGER LAKES EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE

Located at Auburn Community Hospital

Benefits Include:

EASTERN FINGERLAKES MED CENTER 1/4 PAGE AD

• Medical, Dental & Retirement Plan • Generous Pay & Time off • Pay Will Commensurate With Experience.

Please Send CV to: EFLApplications@gmail.com or contact Tina Finlayson, FNP at 315-439-7232 SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


WBOC LEADING WOMAN

LAURIE UCHER David Tyler

L

aurie Ucher loves her role at Seneca Savings. As the senior vice president of retail banking, she gets to connect with people in the community, support local entrepreneurs and help them overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of their business success. “I like to think of myself as a connector of people in the community and an advocate for some of my beliefs such as empowering other women,” Ucher said. “That’s the beauty of working for a small company. Everyone has the same common goal – to help people.” While she has now found herself in her dream job, her career hasn’t been without its challenges. “I was a mom at 18 years old, so it was a hard journey,” she said. “I worked hard to get through my schooling, but I wanted to be a role model for my daughters.”

Ucher is the mother of three – two daughters and a son - and the grandmother of six, soon to be seven. “I’m very fortunate and blessed to be a young grandma; it’s nice to be able to crawl around on the floor with them,” she said. Ucher began her career in banking as a teller with HSBC in 1992 at the age of 20. She had been studying to become a musician, but she decided to adjust her career path to ensure she could support her young family. Without all the modern conveniences of today, the job of a bank teller at the time was less personal than the role she desired. The goal, she said, was to move customers through the line quickly, but what Ucher wanted was the opportunity to connect with them and see how she could help them fulfill their goals. After putting in her dues as a teller, Ucher’s enthusiasm for that type of role was rewarded with a new role as a relationship manager, and then later as a branch manager with a different bank, a job she held for 10 years. But working in the male-dominated setting of global and major regional banks, she longed for a smaller setting where her voice would be heard and she could truly connect with people. So when the opportunity arose to join Seneca Savings in 2016 as the regional vice president, she took it without looking back. “I’ve worked in bigger banks. I feel that as a woman, sometimes you can get lost and your voice gets lost,” Ucher said. “It’s the ability to be a catalyst of change. Having the opportunity to put my thumbprint on something in coming here, was really very appealing to me.” Being at Seneca has allowed Ucher to connect with the community in ways she couldn’t have dreamed of in her former role. She now spearheads a community-awareness program on money management, where she works with area educators to help teens understand concepts like credit. To get the ball rolling, Ucher reached out to teachers and superintendents and worked with them to include a module on money management in their core curriculum. Ucher also works with high schoolers in Chittenango on an entrepreneurship program, planting the seeds of possibility for future business owners. “We can help to educate our community,” Ucher said. “To help provide a platform to do that is something I’m very proud of.” She also helps connect Seneca Savings with a variety of area not-for-profits, including the CNY Diaper Bank, an organization that distributes diapers to low-income families with young children. Diapers for a single child can cost up to $100 per month, an expense that is a severe challenge for families living in poverty.

Photo by Alice G. Patterson

26

OC TOBER 2021 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


27

“It’s something that’s near and dear to me,” Ucher said. “Diapers are not something that’s covered with social assistance. I understand that families are struggling.” To help, Ucher and the bank run a diaper drive throughout the month of May. They also raise money throughout the year and she is currently working on a virtual 5K in support of the diaper bank. During the pandemic, banks became a lifeline for local businesses struggling to keep afloat during the shut downs, and Seneca Savings was right in the middle of it with their small business clients. Ucher said she was extremely proud of the way all the bank’s employees joined together to get all the PPP loans processed and ensure their desperate clients got the funds they needed to make payroll and pay other expenses. “Everyone was on board. Everyone,” she said. “It really meant believing that you can help people.” Now, with nearly three decades of experience in the banking business, Ucher sees herself as a mentor and role model for other young women entering the business world. Her advice? “Don’t be afraid to just go for it, because all things are possible,” she said. “The coolest thing about my job is learning the reasons why people decide to take risks. Business owners are the dreamers and the risk takers in life. I’m the financial connector with making dreams come true.” SWM

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


28

SPECIAL FEATURE

JANE VEROSTEK

With each click of the camera, a soul restored Madelyn Geyer

A

fter her husband, Walter Miller, died from pancreatic cancer in 2019, Jane Verostek snapped a picture. The photograph, called Spirits in the Wind, translated what words couldn’t. It showed a cemetery with a large tree in the foreground. The branches of the tree caught three heart-shaped balloons, hovering right above a headstone marking a fresh burial. It was a coincidence that Verostek was there to catch the moment. She interpreted the balloons as representing her and her two daughters, caught in inescapable grief. The Syracuse native is the winner of a tragic lottery: her sister died of cancer in 2005, she had a house fire in 2017, her husband died in 2019, and her father died in 2020. She wanders through the stately house, built in 1889 by Edward Lillie Pierce, with a heavy spirit. The house holds a lifetime of memories and sadness for Verostek. Miller was a well-known automobile literature collector in Syracuse. They were married 14 years when he died. Friend Lorraine Melita describes Verostek’s “boundless” strength and sense of humor.

OC TOBER 2021

“I know she has amazing strength,” she said. “She doesn't always see that. But to me, she's tremendously strong.” Verostek wrestles with Spirits in the Wind. “Maybe I shouldn't have taken that picture because I'm very proud of it in one way, because it's a beautiful photo, but then in another way it keeps me in limbo, ” she said. The mother of two said she uses photography to escape, to cope, to release. “I need an outlet to show what's going on in my head and my heart,” she said. It’s been a constant in her life since she made her first pinhole camera in elementary school. Verostek said she remembers walking around the playground taking pictures. Photography runs in the family. Her father always had a camera in his hand, she recalls, and even stayed firm with film through the digital revolution. She said she’s proud she’s passed it down to her daughters. Many people retreat to art to cope with grief. “When you're doing art and when you're in grief, your ego structure can disappear,” said Marvi Haynes, a professional counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist based in Austin, Texas.

SU RVIVORS EDITION


29

“Because you're in a world that's not calling on any part of that structure to succeed, I think it helps connect you to very deep feelings and movement that are not compartmentalized by the brain structure.” Art heals. “Art is creating something forward, something that you're creating, whereas death is a kind of juxtaposition,” Haynes said. “Death is something ending. And so in the act of art, you may be trying to create something forward.” Photography was a casual activity until Verostek received a grant in 2015 from United University Professions to fund doing something personally creative, she said. She collected a group of her photos and professionally displayed them at the Liverpool Public Library, the Fayetteville Free Library and the Moon Library at SUNY ESF in a traveling exhibit. Friend Holly Sammons reflects on Verostek’s chosen hobby. “Photography is a recording of an event, a visual record, and again, that goes along with her proclivity toward archives and memorabilia and being creative,” she said Verostek has been featured in the Fall for Syracuse exhibit at Syracuse CoWorks, the Syracuse Public Arts Task Force exhibit at The Point of Contact Gallery, and the Made in NY exhibit at the Schweinfurth Art Center. Verostek’s submission to Made in NY was a somber threedimensional piece called Side Effects. It was her first acceptance into the prestigious exhibit. Syracuse photographer Dan Lyon sees a visual representation of grief as a good thing.

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

“There is nothing negative about grieving, everybody does it at some point in their life,” he said. “The more that you see grief pictured the more you create empathy for someone else or you can place yourself in their shoes or you can relate your own experiences that you have to someone that's going through a hard time.” After enduring endless tragedy since 2005, Verostek looks up. On a recent road trip to Vermont, she said she felt like herself again. The trip took much longer than it should have, with all the pulling off to the side to snap a picture. She took goofy pictures of giant chairs, cars and animals. Maybe, she said, that was because she was out of her element and not sitting in a house aching with grief and anger. “I feel that I've gotten my momentum back. When I drive by something, I feel the urge to stop or turn around.” SWM

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


30

SPECIAL FEATURE

‘Balance over Burnout’: TIPS FOR CAREGIVERS Susan Spina

C

aring for a loved one can be both a very rewarding and a very stressful experience. Whether you are caring for an aging parent, spouse, or other loved one, you will likely find yourself facing challenges you never expected. While it can be overwhelming at times, there are helpful coping strategies and resources that can help make the process more manageable. Focus on “balance over burnout” by tending to your own needs as well as those of your loved one.

Bring joy into your life

Caregivers deserve care too! Find activities that make you happy and carve out time to enjoy them regularly. Whether that means watching your favorite show, treating yourself to a manicure, having lunch with friends, or just going for a walk, making time for yourself is critical to maintaining a healthy balance. Do one special, meaningful thing every day just for you. Finding time for yourself is often the last thought on your mind and it’s easy to find excuses for not doing so. However, taking time for yourself, even if it is only 15 minutes, is the most important gift to yourself for stress reduction.

Stress release is key

There will be many times that you feel stressed, and it’s important to know that this is completely normal. Find ways to help relieve the stress both in the short term and long term. For example, try breathing in slowly for six seconds, holding your breath for six seconds, and then breathing out for six seconds. This simple exercise can help you relax and feel more centered. Don’t bottle your feelings in. Talking through stressful experiences with your doctor, counselor, or even a good friend can offer the increased support and assistance necessary to achieve balance and peace of mind.

Live a healthy lifestyle

It is important to take care of your own physical and mental wellness through a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your physician or mental health professional about ways you can meet goals like eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and staying mentally fit. Start with small, achievable changes that build toward a healthier overall lifestyle — like taking a short walk a few times a week or eating another serving of fruits and vegetables — and celebrate every victory. Also, work toward increasing your intake of water for good hydration and energy every day. Identify how much caffeine you consume daily and work toward replacing those beverages with water. That small change alone will lead to increased energy, positive sleep patterns, and help you feel better overall.

Accept help

Everyone has limitations and it’s important to acknowledge them and know that it is normal and healthy to need and accept help. Build a network of people and agencies who can take some of the burden off you as a primary caregiver. If a friend or family member offers

OC TOBER 2021

to help so you can have some time off, accept their kindness. Even if they can’t physically care for your loved one, they can help with errands and household chores or just come over to socialize and talk.

Take advantage of services

Check with your local Office of the Aging to see what services are available to you and your loved one, including professional caregivers, respite care programs, Meals on Wheels, and adult medical and social day programs. Contact your loved one’s insurer to see what benefits they may be eligible for that they are not currently receiving, such as a home health aide or nurse. Many insurance companies can help monitor your loved one’s medical needs and help you navigate the many services available within a vast health system by pairing you with a nurse care manager or nurse navigator. Allowing someone else to care for your loved one does not mean you are not doing your job — it is a valuable opportunity for you to recharge and relieve stress.

Put together advance care planning

If you’re caring for an elderly or ill individual, work with them to put together an advance care directive documenting their health care wishes so medical providers can give them the care that they’ve chosen. This takes the burden of making difficult health care decisions off of caregivers, family, and friends and ensures that the individual’s wishes are honored. Once decisions are made be sure to discuss advanced directives with your physician. Include yourself in the planning and completion of your own advanced directive. Good online resources for medical advanced planning include FiveWishes.org and TheConversationProject.org. New York state has a health care proxy that you can access online or through a physician’s office. This legal, simple, and convenient options is available at health.ny.gov/professionals/patients/health_care_proxy. Stay organized with all the paperwork that accumulates as you care for your loved one. Write down your questions to ask the doctor and keep everything in one place, including a calendar for appointments. Organization reduces stress and empowers positive and informed decision making,

Focus on gratitude

When you feel overwhelmed, think about one thing that you are grateful for and how it is a positive in your life. Being a caregiver is tough, so focus on the good things around you to keep yourself motivated and grounded. When you are feeling stressed as a caregiver, remember that you are doing an amazing, but very difficult job. Sometimes you need supportive people to lift your spirits, assist you with meaningful tasks, and have valuable conversations. It’s so important to remind yourself that you are valued and loved very much and it is ok (and encouraged!) to take care of yourself. Practicing self-care and being accepting of support enhances your strengths and endurance, allowing you to be the best version of yourself. SWM Susan Spina is a licensed clinical social worker with Nascentia Health.

SU RVIVORS EDITION


October is Fire Prevention Month Make sure your family has discussed an escape plan. Test smoke alarms every month. Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on every level of the home.

STORE HOURS: Mon-Fri 9:00-5:00 Saturday 11:00-4:00 Closed Sunday

SPORTING GOODS

315-472-7874 • 625 Burnet Ave, Syracuse

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM

31


32

INSPIRE

MARY KAPFER Instilling hope David Tyler

A

s the oldest of eight children, nurturing others was always something that came naturally for Mary Kapfer. “My father would say, ‘when Mary went to college, we didn’t know what we would do,’ because I was the oldest and I was like the second mother,” she said. That experience, as well as the experience of 46 years in medicine, has made her wellsuited for the role of breast navigator at St. Joseph Imaging in Fayetteville. “My job is to make sure women – it’s almost always women, but sometimes men as well - get what they need,” she said. “I just want to be there for people in any way they need me. It’s different things for different people.” Often that includes educating them about their breast health to ensure they are getting regular mammograms and taking care of themselves. Sometimes it is helping them navigate some of the financial supports that are available for uninsured patients. Almost always it is about giving patients hope and encouragement at a time when their anxieties are at their highest. It is also about being available to patients when they are going through a traumatic, anxietyproducing event – getting them in quickly if they’re waiting, getting them their results promptly, being available to answer their questions.

OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


33

When a mammogram shows a lump or other cause for concern, Mary walks them through the biopsy process, to include sitting with the majority of patients during the procedure, holding their hand, planting encouraging thoughts. “I’m giving them that hope when they come in that most of these are benign,” she said, noting that about 80 percent of biopsies are benign. “I think the important message is to always deliver hope.” Renée Moonan is one of the patients that Kapfer sat with during a biopsy of a lump in her breast. “She just made me feel like everything was going to be okay,” Moonan said. “During the biopsy, she was stroking my leg, telling me I was going to be okay. She’s very intuitive. She was very much tuned in to how I was feeling.” “Human touch is so important,” Kapfer said. “They’re so anxious that the anxiety is just sending them over the edge. It’s just a different kind of cancer for women. It’s such a personal thing.” When they needed someone to fill the role of breast navigator, St. Joseph’s Imaging sought Kapfer out. She had worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital previously and they felt she had the skills and personality for the job. Kapfer initially wasn’t sold that she was the right person for the job. In several decades of experience, she had worked with cancer patients, but this role would have a singular focus – breast cancer patients. But after the interview, when she spoke with her husband, Kim, she knew she was the right fit for the role. “I think what drew me to it is these people need somebody and they need somebody who can be patient with them and give them

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

hope and be caring. And I can do that with people,” Kapfer said. “It’s such a personal part of their body and so personal to them. It’s just being able to focus on this one group and take care of them and I really do love it.” How has the position changed in the 11 years that Kapfer has been a breast navigator? “I think we’re busier – I think we’re seeing more young people now than we used to,” she said. “I think it’s changed because people are more aware of the services that are out there.” It’s also helpful that in New York State, even those without health insurance can get free mammograms, she said. “Even if you don’t have insurance, New York State has provided f or that,” Kapfer said, touting the people at Cancer Services of Onondaga County who help uninsured patients navigate through the financial supports available to them. “There’s no reason for people not to have a mammogram. I guess if I could shout out one thing, if you’re over 40 and you don’t have insurance, it doesn’t matter, New York State will pay for that.” Living in the world of breast cancer every day certainly has its challenges, but Kapfer gladly accepts those challenges knowing that she is helping patients during one of the most stressful events in their lives. “I think anybody in medicine takes it home with them. I think about these people a lot,” she said. “It can be an emotionally draining job, but it’s also a satisfying job.” SWM

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


34

IN HER OWN WORDS

SYDNEY HOPKINS No matter the hand we’re dealt, there is no chance we fold

I

don’t remember first learning about breast cancer. I was only four and my mom had just found a lump the size of a pea. Now, barely a decade younger than she was when diagnosed, I am preparing for a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. I knew early on that the deck was stacked against me. Much like my mom, my maternal grandmother and aunt fought the disease. It’s a family history that has made every one of my doctor’s cringe and is proof that – as science goes - my chances of meeting the same fate are extremely high. When I was 16 years old, I had no idea that from that deck, I was about to be dealt an even more unfortunate hand. Though I was, by all accounts, an active, healthy, happy sophomore in high school, my mom noticed some irregularities in my body and growth. Scared and knowing the depth of our family history, she took me to a breast specialist. Shortly after that visit I had the first MRI-guided biopsy of my left breast and was ultimately diagnosed with a disease called Juvenile Papillomatosis. It’s incredibly rare, meaning there is very little research and even fewer medical journals to peruse, but among the minimal information collected is a prominent statistic: Juvenile Papillomatosis increases my chances of getting breast cancer by double digits.

OC TOBER 2021

In the 12 years since that diagnosis I have had several lumps. This has led to a lumpectomy, half a dozen biopsies, the loss of nearly 20 percent of my breast tissue, and countless nerve-wracking, emotionally draining appointments. Fortunately, I have been met, so far, with all benign tumors. For that, I’m extremely grateful and the good fortune is not lost on me. But for years I’ve been unable to shake the feeling that the other shoe is about to drop and it’s going to drop in the form of a tumor turned malignant. I could tell that my doctor, who had been with me for 12 years, felt the same. About two years ago she suggested to me that a prophylactic mastectomy, while incredibly intimidating and scary, was probably my best form of treatment. Frankly, she said it was the only treatment that would eliminate the emotional and physical trauma of constant imaging and of the biopsies that were becoming more and more frequent. In addition, it was likely to drop my chances of getting breast cancer to almost zero. I was sold. Well, almost. You might imagine that a medical decision, particularly one with lifelong consequences, is not made in a silo. For me, it was made after dozens and dozens of conversations (and tears) with my parents and my sister. It also meant countless conversations and SU RVIVORS EDITION


35

Sydney Hopkins, with her husband Matt.

running through “what if” scenarios with my husband, Matt. If it was only as simple as solving the problem of Juvenile Papillomatosis and possible cancer, it would be a no-brainer. If only. A bi-lateral prophylactic mastectomy means I will lose all tissue and sensation from my breasts. Countless complications can come from a surgery of this magnitude – rejection of the implants, infections, death of the surrounding skin and tissue, and more. It means my husband and parents will have to put their lives on hold to help me through two surgeries and the recoveries that come with them. It also means there is no future in which I will be able to breastfeed the children that Matt and I hope to have someday. Does that make me less desirable as a wife? Will that make me less of a mother? Can I still bond with our children the way that breastfeeding mothers do? Does it make me less of a woman, wife, future mother, daughter, sister, and aunt if I lose this part of myself before I even turn 30? I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that I made this decision surrounded by an incredible support system made up of people who have continued to remind me, even on the most stressful days, that no matter the hand we’re dealt, there is no chance we fold. SWM SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


36

UPCOMING EVENTS Weekends throughout October

Wednesday, Oct. 6

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. What: One of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s most beloved family events is back each weekend in October with a safe, fun, “kooky not spooky” daytime Halloween celebration. The zoo becomes a kid-friendly haunt with trick-or-treat stations, creepy crawly animal encounters, keeper chats, games, activities and photo ops. Wear your costumes and bring your treat bags! Where: Rosamond Gifford Zoo, 1 Conservation Place, Syracuse Info: onondagacountyparks.com

When: 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. What: Gain a new perspective on networking, use your skills to make the most out of networking opportunities and learn tactics for engineering your own networking experiences for maximum effectiveness and enjoyment with Kelly Schrank, MA, ELS. Where: SKY Armory, 351 S. Clinton Street, Syracuse Info: www.wboconnection.org to register.

Zoo Boo

Friday, October 1 - Sunday, October 31

Haudenosaunee Art Across the Homelands

When: Tuesday - Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m Saturday and Sunday by appointment only. What: Composed of over 52 contemporary artworks by Haudenosaunee artists from all six nations across what is now New York. The works are on loan from the Contemporary Native American Art Collection, New York State Museum, Albany. Where: Stuart Gallery Shaffer Bldg, College Place, Syracuse Cost: Free Info: 315-443-4097, email suart@syr.edu or visit: https://museum.syr.edu/visit/plan-your-visit/ Friday, October 1

WBOC: Engineering your networking experience

Thursday, Oct. 21

An Evening at the Everson

When: 6 p.m. What: A truly immersive experience featuring conversation, wine and music on the third Thursday of the month. Experience the Museum and learn about exhibitions and the history of the building through informal guided strolls. Afterwards, sip along and learn about a variety of wines with James Beckman, regional vice president of the American Wine Society. Join us for a thrilling concert of newly commissioned works, Prisms and Antiphons – v. 1.1 – AbStranded. Where: The Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse Cost: Free Info: 315-474-6064 Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23 & 24

Familiar Reimagined

Symphoria Masterworks: Classical Revival

When: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. What: Paintings by Karen Burns, semi-abstract landscape oil paintings with Nancy Nixon Ensign’s mixed media series titled “An Artist’s Year in Quarantine.” Where: Edgewood Gallery, 216 Tecumseh Road, Syracuse Cost: Free Info: 315-544-5811.

When: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday What: Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saints-Georges, was a colleague of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Saint-Georges’s Symphony No. 2 and Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 will be performed side-by-side in a marvelous reframing of what we think we know about the Classical period. CNY’s longtime friend, Julian Schwartz, performs Dmitri Shostakovich’s powerful Cello Concerto No. 1. Where: Inspiration Hall, 709 James Street, Syracuse Cost: $35 to $90

Saturday, Oct. 2

Early Autumn Paddle

When: 4 p.m. What: Enjoy autumn’s glow with a naturalist on an early evening canoe paddle around Beaver Lake. We’ll launch the beach to enjoy the sunset while snacking on cheese, crackers and cider. Price includes canoe rental. Advanced registration is required. Where: Beaver Lake Nature Center, 8477 East Mud Lake Road, Baldwinsville Cost: $25 per canoe Info: onondagacountyparks.com

Saturday, Oct. 30

Symphoria Kids: Spooky Symphoria

When: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. What: Your favorite Halloween tradition returns with creepy classical music and family-friendly activities, including a Costume Parade! Where: Inspiration Hall, 709 James Street, Syracuse Cost: Free to $18 Info: symphoria.org

Wednesday, Oct. 6

Saturday, October 30

When: 7 to 8 p.m. What: A virtual event featuring auctions and raffles to support Francis House. Where: Live broadcast on Newschannel 9. Visit www.localsyr.com to join in. Info: francishouseny.org

When: 7 p.m. What: Syracuse’s First Annual Witches Samhain Ball, presented by Witches and Heathens of CNY and sponsored by The Sabbath Project. Ticket prices and packages vary. Where: The Landmark Theatre, 362 S Salina Street, Syracuse Info: To order tickets email customerservice@ticketnetwork.com or call 1-888-456-8499.

There’s No Place Like Home

Inaugural Witches’ Ball of CNY

 Experience  Commitment  Dedication timburtis.com

Paid for by the Friends of Tim Burtis

OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


37

4483 Buckley Rd W, Liverpool 315-641-1197

Dr Suzanne Shapero, DMD, MBA, PC Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

“Don’t be afraid of the dentist, Dr Shapero is not only a dentist, but a good friend. Thanks to everyone there for making the trip to the dentist a painless and friendly experience.” - - Phillip E., patient

635-6643 www.baldwinsvilledentist.com

Let Us Host Your Visiting Family!

1854 Farmhouse Stay

Quiet Countryside Getaway in Cazenovia NY Complimentary Package with Reservation www.redfoxrunbb.com SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

Jussara Potter Photography

Our Advanced Services performed in a safe environment with our state-of-the art filtration system We Accept: Cigna 1 Charlotte Street, Baldwinsville (across from the Police Station) In the old Post Office building opposite the Village Hall

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


38

MOVERS & SHAKERS

Named NYS Senate ‘Woman of Distinction’

Detective Gwen Dowdell (Ret.) was recently presented the 2021 New York State Senate Woman of Distinction award in recognition of her trailblazing career and decades of service to her community. Sen. John Mannion presented Dowdell with the award last month. Dowdell served in the Syracuse Police Department for 20 years and worked as a detective and investigator in the Domestic Violence Unit, the Child Abuse Unit and the Missing Persons Unit. She retired from the police department in 2007 but continued her service as a school resource officer at Corcoran High School and later as security official at Onondaga Community College. “As a member of the Syracuse PD, Det. Gwen Dowdell took on the most difficult cases; she built bridges between the community and her department while dedicating herself to protecting our most vulnerable neighbors,” Mannion said. “In our schools, she became a role model while protecting our kids. Gwen Dowdell is a true Woman of Distinction and deserves our praise, respect, and gratitude. She has never stopped making this community a better and safer place and she is clearly one of Central New York’s finest citizens.” Dowdell is a past vice president of Camp 415, an organization of African American law enforcement officers who seek to strengthen relationships – and awareness - between police and the community. Camp 415 honors the badge number of Wallie Howard, a beloved Syracuse Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty. Randi Bregman, the co-executive director of Vera House said, “Gwen was one of the most caring, committed police officers I ever worked with. She went above and beyond to try to get victims help and support and to hold offenders accountable. She had a way with people and made them feel like they mattered to her.” For that work, Gwen received the Sister Mary Vera Award, dedicated to citizens who serve those affected by domestic and sexual violence while emulating “the humility, gentleness and humanitarian spirit reflected by Sister Mary Vera.” Dowdell has also received the Champion of Children Award, the PBA Merit and Valor Award, and numerous law enforcement commendations.

bachelor’s degree from SUNY Geneseo in communications and public relations. She is accredited as a certified fundraising executive (CFRE) from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

Joins Barclay Damon

Barclay Damon recently announced Traci Boris, partner, has joined Barclay Damon’s Health Care & Human Services and Labor & Employment Practice Areas. Her primary office location is Syracuse. Boris primarily focuses her practice on counseling individual practitioners, owners, administrators, executives, directors, and employees of health care practices and health care-related facilities, including physicians, licensed medical personnel, hospitals and clinics. Boris assists health care clients with drafting and negotiating complex contracts and agreements; reviewing liability insurance portfolios; navigating wage-and-hour laws, the Family Medical Leave Act, disability issues, and personnel matters; human resources investigatory processes; HIPAA compliance, compliance programs, audits, investigations and self-disclosures, and licensure issues; EMTALA and transfer questions; and physician and patient relations. Boris also assists with creating and revising corporate documents and provides guidance on merger documents and transition plans to health care systems and boards of directors.

Named Foundation director for Syracuse Diocese

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse recently announced that Beth Lynn Hoey, CFRE has been hired as the executive director of the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, effective October 12. The Foundation is a tax exempt, not profit charitable corporation established to foster philanthropy throughout the seven county Diocese. Hoey will be responsible for all fundraising initiatives, the annual HOPE Appeal, and the management of the Office of Stewardship and Development. Beth has more than 29 years of experience in development locally beginning at the St. John's Home in Rochester, Huntington Family Center in Syracuse, and the last 25 years with Francis House in Syracuse as the director of development. She earned her OC TOBER 2021

SU RVIVORS EDITION


39

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAGA ZI N E

SYR ACUSE WOMAN MAG.COM


Porsche Syracuse

5885 East Circle Drive Cicero, New York 13039 (315) 233-5386 Syracuse.Porschedealer.com

Profile for Eagle Newspapers

Syracuse Woman Magazine - October 2021  

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded