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October C O N T E N T S

Letter from the Editor ............................................................. 6

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Past SWM Events ..................................................................... 7 Fashion Forward: Decor Edition............................................ 8

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Syracuse Eats: Prontofresh .................................................. 10 WBOC Leading Woman: LeaAnne Fuller ......................... 14 Special Feature: Hopeful Grateful Strong......................... 19 Syracuse Reads: From Mom to Me Again ........................ 22 For a Good Cause: White Glove Waste & Recycling .....24

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Healthy Woman: Everyday Toxins ........................................26 Cover Story: Tracey Burkey ................................................. 29

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In Her Own Words: The Process of Getting Diagnosed ... 38 Inspire: Mona Smart and Diane Pluff ...................................44 Inspire: Kathy Conese .......................................................... 48 Inspire: Cheryl Heller ............................................................ 52

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Upcoming SWM Events....................................................... 56 Movers and Shakers ............................................................. 58

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LETTER from the Editor

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very October, Syracuse Woman Magazine joins the fefforts to raise awareness about the fight against breast cancer. In my almost two years at the helm, I’ve met many women affected by the disease and had the honor of telling their stories. It’s one of the many causes that’s grown close to my heart. As you might already know, another cause that’s come to mean a lot to me is the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis. It’s something I stumbled upon back in 2016. I’ve told the tale in past letters, so, I’ll keep the origin story short: a coworker clued me in on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Xtreme Hike last year, and the experience changed my life. This summer, we did the hike again, with many of the same people and a few new faces. This year, I didn’t have the same life-changing “a-ha” moment of clarity on the mountaintop I had last year. But, after the summer of fundraising and the daylong trek, I do have two takeaways. First and most importantly: In a world where chaos and disaster can sometimes feel like inevitable and overwhelming forces, the generosity of my family and friends blows me away. We ended up raising about $500 more than the original $2,500 goal. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who donated. The second takeaway is more personal, and has to do with perspective. On the 2016 hike, I often found myself stuck in my own head. I’d look at the path ahead of me (and above me, a lot of the time), and think, “I don’t know how to do that.” I would second-guess myself. “Should my foot go there? But what if that’s not the best option? What if I fall?” It wasn’t just a hiking problem. It’s a day-to-day issue I think a lot of people struggle with from time to time. “What if I fall?” really translates into “What if I fail?” But what I realized on last year’s hike, and carried through the year with me, is if you surround yourself with strong and supportive people — a team — you can’t fail. Sure, maybe you’ll stumble, but you will never fall. Sometimes it’s a matter of being present, too. There were too many times on my first hike when I’d worry about what was ahead of me; subsequently, I’d start to lose my footing and confidence about where I was in that moment. Yes, it’s good to look ahead. It’s healthy to have a sense of what’s coming. Looking back, and taking the time to appreciate what you’ve accomplished, is important, too. But when you pay attention to where you are now, you tend to better grasp the reality of the situation. Like, “Oh, this boulder isn’t really as insurmountable as I thought it was. I just need a boost.” Or, “Hey, maybe this problem isn’t so difficult after all.” Look around. Appreciate where you are. Ask for a hand when you need it. Your team is ready to help!

Lorna

On Our Cover: Tracey Burkey was photographed by Alice G. Patterson of Alice G. Patterson Photography in Franklin Square and at Hair Habitat. Special thanks to Jillain Pastella Salomone, owner of J. Luxe Salon, in Syracuse.

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OUR TEAM Publisher

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

David Tyler

Editor Lorna Oppedisano

Design Andrea Reeves

Photography Alexis Emm Susan Hodell Susan Morison Steven J. Pallone Alice G. Patterson Jacqueline Vidler

Riley Bunch Jasmine Gomez Susan Hodell Mary Grace Johnson Christine A. Krahling Wendy LaDue Amy Lowe Samantha McCormick Lorna Oppedisano Kathryn Walsh

Advertising sales Linda Jabbour 315.657.0849

Renée Moonan 315.657.7690

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 info@syracusewomanmag.com

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The magazine is published 12 times a year by Syracuse Woman Magazine, LLC and Eagle Publications, 2501 James St., Suite 100, Syracuse, NY 13206

Copyright © 2017 Syracuse Woman Magazine, 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 Syracuse Woman Magazine, LLC and will not be returned.

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PAST SWM Events

The Arc of Onondaga Foundation presented the 23rd Annual Arc Race – the Dunkin’ Run – on Saturday, Sept. 9, at Long Branch Park in Liverpool. This year’s Arc Race brought a crowd of more than 2,000 people together to raise funds for Arc of Onondaga. For information about Arc of Onondaga and the Arc Race, please visit arcon.org. Photography by Susan Morison, Blue Hat Photography. WBOC held its first meeting of the 2017/2018 year at the Genesee Grande Hotel on Wednesday, Sept. 6. UBS’ Colette Powers hosted a vision boarding program. Photography by Enfoque Images.

October 2017

Syracuse Woman Magazine editor Lorna Oppedisano, and account executive Linda Jabbour participated in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Xtreme Hike for the second consecutive year on Saturday, Aug. 26. Together, they raised more than $5,000 for the CF Foundation during the course of the summer, before the daylong hike in the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains.

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FASHION FORWARD Decor Edition

Designing for You Story and photography by Susan Hodell

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ve always been an advocate for breaking the rules a bit when it comes to fashion. That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing my high school prom dress to the office, but I do love a good, well-tailored, cigarette-leg pantsuit, with a crisp pair of retro Adidas sneakers! Fashion is supposed to be fun. It’s all about expressing yourself and feeling your best. The same guidelines apply when I go to style a living space. Like with fashion, I’m always excited for a new trend. But the room doesn’t feel quite right until I put my own spin on things. The two worlds are more closely related than you might realize! What’s hot in apparel influences the world of decor in a major way. That cigarette-leg pantsuit I’m obsessed with? Menswear-inspired pieces are huge in women’s fashion right now. Without making the connection beforehand, what did I just have to have for our bed at home? Menswearinspired sheets! I had to offset the slightly masculine linens, however, with a few blingy bedside lamps, because that combo felt like me. (My partner is a good sport, and he supports my styling adventures… most of the time!) Another trend that’s taken over my closet and now my patio furniture is that omnipresent millennial pink. I swore off pink for so many years, but now, all my shirts are pink and so are the vintage metal shell chairs out back! My tastes have changed and that’s what’s fun about cultivating your own style: it’s not permanent. It can grow and develop along with who you are and what you need at any given point in your own journey.

For me, work-life is busy right now. My style and decor choices reflect that, and are above all else functional. Skirts are hard to pull off when I’m lugging furniture around, but you better believe my pants will be vintage and they will be funky. At home, there aren’t a lot of knick knacks, because I just don’t have the hours to dedicate to dusting. I’ve gone pretty simple for the time being. Going minimal didn’t affect my love for color, though. There are still plum-colored accent walls in the home office, and big bold curtains in the great room. That’s what feels like me and works for my life, and that’s what it’s all about. When you’re able to cater your personal style to your needs and capture even a smidgen of your originality, it can be life-changing. When I wake up in a space that is organized to fit my day and filled with things I love, I’m motivated. I’m more likely to wake up early and make a real breakfast. I’ll prep a healthy lunch. I’m more likely to pack a bag, so I can swing by the gym later. I’m excited for my day. And then there’s the OOTD — Outfit of the Day. In real life, some mornings are a struggle and I’m just lucky to find matching socks. But we all know how good it feels to be in clothes that work for your body and reflect your spirit. It makes you feel confident that you can tackle your day. It makes you feel optimistic. It makes you feel powerful. It’s good to be you. Show it off! SWM Susan Hodell is the owner of Driftwood & Glitter. For more information, visit driftwoodandglitter.com or instagram.com/driftwoodandglitter. Find Driftwood & Glitter’s vintage housewares at Vintage Love, located at 201 E. Jefferson St. in downtown Syracuse.

Examples of Driftwood & Glitter owner Susan Hodell’s interior design.

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SYRACUSE EATS Prontofresh

PRONTOFRESH LUCIANA MARI, CO-OWNER

Photography by Steven J. Pallone

We love interacting with our customers. We have a great group of regulars, and it’s nice to get to know the people that we share our community with.” — Luciana Mari, Prontofresh co-owner

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The Pink Edition


PRONTOFRESH

Fast and Fresh Food By Samantha McCormick

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rancesc and Luciana Mari — the dynamic duo behind downtown Syracuse’s Prontofresh — are the perfect culinary couple. The husband and wife team use local produce to craft panini, salads, wraps, sandwiches and more, and proudly serve coffee from their downtown business neighbor, Recess Coffee. Francesc, a chef classically trained in Barcelona, Spain, had spent years working long hours, including evenings, weekends and holidays, Luciana said. “I wanted to combine his expertise and passion for food with my willingness to get in the game,” she said. The two met at Keen’s Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan. Luciana worked in the front of the house, and Francesc in the kitchen. After years of working together, they’ve mastered what they call the “dance of a lunch rush.” Luciana was particularly inspired to find a healthy work-life balance, something oftentimes missing in the restaurant industry. Their main goal was to open an establishment that would afford them the privilege of making it home for dinner every night. They started looking for the perfect restaurant in the perfect location, and, in 2014, hit the jackpot when they bought the small eatery, Prontofresh, from Bull & Bear owner, Mark Bullis. Not only does the restaurant attract a fair amount of walk-in traffic from downtown locals and newcomers alike, but it also offers catering and delivery. “We love interacting with our customers,” Luciana said. “We have a great group of regulars, and it’s nice to get to know the people that we share our community with. It certainly makes the day more fun.” Try the harvest salad — complete with mixed greens, apples, craisins, crumbled bleu cheese, walnuts and sunflower seeds — paired with one of the restaurant’s daily soups. With Prontofresh open for breakfast and lunch, it’s the perfect fit for the Mari family. Of course, learning to draw that life-work line is part of the balancing act, as well. “It’s harder to turn off work when you’re home,” Luciana explained. “We try to steer clear of restaurant talk during family time.” When the day is done and the panini presses are unplugged, the couple goes home to their No. 1 priority — their family. “Hands down, our children are our inspiration,” Luciana said. “They know we both work hard to provide a life that is rich in experiences, family, friends and time with their parents. It’s a struggle to balance it all, but I think we do a pretty good job.” SWM Prontofresh is located at 133 E. Water St., in downtown Syracuse’s Hanover Square. The restaurant is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit prontofreshcny.com or facebook.com/ Prontofresh.

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Girlfriends GATHER

Here

Greenwood Winery & Bistro

Phoebe's Happy Hour @ the bar

Fri., Oct 6: The Billionaires Fri., Oct 27: Lisa Lee Band

$4 House Mixers $4.50 Local Pints $5 House Wine

7 to 10 p.m.

HARVEST HOUR

Monday - Thursday 4 to 6 p.m. $5 Drafts, $2 off glasses of wine, $10 charcuterie platter

Tuesday - Friday 4 to 6 p.m.

Take $10 off bottle wine Every Wednesday night

WINE WEDNESDAY MUSIC at 1060 Restaurant Wed., Oct. 4 & Wed., Nov. 1 Music by Howie Bartolo

Tasting & Tunes

Sundays 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 1: John McConnell Oct. 8: Cameron Caruso Oct.15: Denn Bunger Oct. 22: Cameron Caruso Oct. 29: Phil DuMond 12

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WBOC LEADING WOMAN LeaAnn Fuller

The Path to a Fuller Life By Jasmine Gomez

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efore teaching other women how to live a Fuller Life — the name of her career, life and relationship-coaching business— owner LeaAnn Fuller first had to learn to do it herself. Her path to entrepreneurship was a rocky one, but eventually led her to inspire and empower other women. At age 16, LeaAnn had her first daughter, forcing her to face the challenges of motherhood at a young age. She remembers overhearing whispers of people who wondered if she’d finish high school. “I’m the kind of person [who if] you tell me I can’t, I’ll show you I can,” she said. LeaAnn proved the naysayers wrong, finished high school and had two more daughters. But though she’d accomplished the goal of completing school, her life was still far from perfect. After leaving a relationship she described as toxic, LeaAnn had to deal with the pressures of being a single mother. Her life became a monotonous routine. And then someone asked her a lifechanging question: where do you see yourself in the future? It was something she’d never thought about before. Upon pondering the answer, she began to think there might be more in her life. “It just got me thinking that there actually is a future,” she explained. “There is more than this. And I took that tiny whisper and made it into a roar.” She started working on herself more, eventually founding Fuller Life. In the process, she co-authored four books, including “The Unstoppable Woman of Purpose,” an Amazon International Best Seller. LeaAnn’s goal for Fuller Life is to empower women to actively build toward future goals. She encourages her clients to work through exercises aimed at building energy and creating the positive mindset necessary for overcoming obstacles. Though LeaAnn does book speaking engagements and conduct workshops, most of her coaching is done via the internet and phone, allowing her to connect with women in places as far away as Australia.

LeaAnn aims to help her clients realize that while challenges are inevitable, it’s how you attack them that counts. “There are struggles in life, but you don’t have to suffer. It’s your choice whether or not you get stuck and you suffer,” she explained. “I did for a long time. I was in limbo for a long time, and just finally decided enough is enough.” Though LeaAnn’s business focus is helping other women, she constantly strives for personal development as well. She hosts a radio show every Wednesday night, “Welcome to Your Fuller Life,” which offers her another way to connect with women. Recently, LeaAnn stepped into the role of program director for the Women Business Opportunities Connections organization, a group that has helped her experience growth for both herself and her business. And with the holiday season right around the corner, LeaAnn is ramping up for her annual Adopt-A-Mom program, which collects gifts to give to single moms around the holidays. She started it about five years ago, when her mom — who, like LeaAnn, was a single parent — passed away. In its first year, the program collected 10 gifts. Since its inception, it’s grown to now donate more than 100 gifts. Though LeaAnn’s life is focused around helping other women, her clients do the work themselves, she said. “We just help them figure out what they want to do,” she explained. “So, just knowing that you’re a part of that, and you helped them get there, and just to have someone say they never thought their life could be this good is one of the most rewarding things.” SWM For more information on Fuller Life and the Adopt-A-Mom program, visit lovingyourfullerlife.com. Women Business Opportunities Connections (WBOC) is a non-profit organization that has been supporting the Syracuse and CNY area for more than 20 years. To become a member, visit wboconnection.org or follow the organization on Twitter at @WBOConnection. Syracuse Woman Magazine is a signature sponsor of the WBOC.

There are struggles in life, but you don’t have to suffer. It’s your choice whether or not you get stuck and you suffer.” —LeaAnn Fuller, founder and owner of Fuller Life 14

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Upstate Renee Full Page

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Blushing Rose Boutique Blushing Rose Women’s Clothing, Accessories & Unique Gifts

1/4 page ad

• Mosiac • Blue Ginger • Kleen • Lulu-B • Caite • April Cornell Linens • Jewelry • And Much More!

Store Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10-5 Sunday, 11-3 • Monday Closed

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HEALTHY WOMAN Hopeful Grateful Strong

The Caregiver

hopefulgratefulstrong By Amy Lowe

This story is an excerpt from “Hopeful — Grateful — Strong,” a collection of survivor stories from the YMCA of Greater Syracuse’s cancer support programs.

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have always been a caregiver. I took care of my medically fragile parents, in-laws and son, and also my special needs son, my daughter, and my husband Paul. I put myself last because my family needed me. My oldest son Christopher was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. He struggled his entire life to breathe. As he got older, the hospital became the place where he spent too much time. The doctors told Chris that he wouldn’t make it to his twenties. This news made him depressed and suicidal. Paul and I argued with him. “Start fighting for your life! Don’t give up!” We forced him to go to school even when he didn’t see the point. But we also yelled the loudest when he crossed the stage to receive his high school diploma. Chris started his college career with the goal of graduating before he passed away. On his 21st birthday, he was hospitalized. His college friends showed up and snuck beers past the nurses. It was a horrible way to spend a birthday, but we weren’t sure how many more he’d have. A couple of years later, Chris moved home. The doctors wanted him to have a double lung transplant, but his condition was too poor to make him a good candidate. As a family we worked to improve his health so that he could be on the transplant list. All of our efforts paid off, and we waited for a match. “Mom, it’s time. They have a donor.” That was the best phone call I ever got. Chris had a chance at a healthy future, and we were so happy. He’d found a wonderful young woman and was helping to raise her daughter. Paul and I never imagined Chris would have this kind of life. He was also making plans to go back to school and finally earn his degree. Unfortunately Chris went into full rejection and was no longer a candidate for another transplant.

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“It’s time. How soon can you get here?” That was the worst phone call. Paul and I held him until he took his last breath. He passed away one week before his 30th birthday. My husband and I slowly got our feet back under us. The college that Chris attended posthumously awarded him his degree, which helped us heal. One year after his death, I’m ready to inter his ashes. Then it happens. As I stand in the cemetery, I hear my son’s voice. “Mom, stop taking care of me. Take care of yourself.” I’m losing my mind. “Call the doctor. Take care of yourself.” It’s been over two years since I’ve seen the doctor. But Chris is in my head, telling me what to do, and I give in. I call my doctor and schedule an appointment right away. I have a physical exam and a routine mammogram, and the doctors find something: breast cancer. My treatment plan consists of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal therapy. I’m no longer the caregiver — I’m the patient. I struggle with this new role because as the mom I’ve always taken care of those I love, not the other way around. However, I’m getting better about accepting help from my family. I also rely on a wonderful support network at the YMCA and their program for breast cancer survivors, Laurie’s Hope. I’m still fighting but I know that I will survive. My guardian angel protects me by reminding me what I need to do. Sometimes, the best thing a caregiver can do is put herself first. SWM For more information on the Syracuse YMCA’s cancer support programs, visit syracuse.ymca.org. If you wish to purchase a copy of “Hopeful — Grateful — Strong,” contact Jessica DesRosiers at jdesrosiers@syracuseymca.org or (315) 474-6851 ext. 338. The book was published by the YMCA's Downtown Writers Center. For more information, visit ycny.org/dwc.html.

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SYRACUSE READS From Mom to Me Again

Filling an Empty Nest By Christine A. Krahling

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reparing for an empty nest can stir up a whole host of emotions: sadness, uncertainty, loneliness and, at the same time, maybe even a little bit of relief and excitement about what’s to come. As women, we typically manage our children’s schedules: from diapers to driving lessons, carpools to college applications, and everything between. While the role of “Mom-in-Chief” can be a fulfilling one, eventually there comes a time when our services are no longer needed, at least not in their original capacity. Though I wouldn’t trade the “Mommy Years” for anything in the world, I’d be lying if I said I never daydream about what I’ll do when I have more free time. I have two more years before I’m an official empty-nester. But I’m a planner, so, I figured it couldn’t hurt to do some research in preparation for this next phase of life. Turns out I wasn’t alone in my thinking. Melissa T. Shultz, author of “From Mom to Me Again: How I Survived My First Empty-Nest Year and Reinvented the Rest of My Life,” said, “Parenting doesn’t stop, but it does change.” According to Melissa, about three million women become empty-nesters each year. While there are plenty of self-help articles devoted to reinventing yourself once empty-nest syndrome hits, most of this information addresses only what to do after the kids leave home, not before, Melissa explained. So, she began thinking about how to transform into the role of empty-nester. “Try new things on for size,” she said. “You don’t need to marry the activity — just give it a chance and see what interests and friends might come from it. This way, you are more purposefully engaged, rather than mindlessly engaged — intentionally moving forward. It can be scary, I know, but it’s also empowering.” When most of us think about a time we’ll be free to take up a new hobby, go back to school or reenter the work force, we often don’t factor in things that might prevent us from achieving our later-in-life goals. After all, we’ve already earned our stripes, right? But what if life throws you a curveball? In Melissa’s case, that curveball was a breast cancer diagnosis at age 45. At the time, Melissa’s sons were 10 and 12 years old. In an essay for the website “Scary Mommy,” she wrote it “felt like the end of the world.”

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When asked if her empty-nest plans would have been different without that experience, Melissa explained that cancer forces conversations about mortality, hopes and dreams, and “whether or not we have achieved them,” she said. She was reminded of longterm goals she’d put on hold when she had her children. Writing a book was one of them. “Had I not developed cancer, I’m not sure I would have pushed myself in quite the same way,” she said. “I understand now, more than ever, not only how temporary life is, but the importance of shifting expectations to meet changing realities.” In “From Mom to Me Again,” Melissa wrote, “the single biggest feeling the empty-nest women I’ve spoken to expressed, even for those who initially are thrilled to have some time of their own, is a sense of stillness.” With a calendar revolving around the family schedule, mothers always have something to do, Melissa explained. When the house empties, it can cause a dramatic shift. When Melissa was diagnosed, she felt a similar change. Her time was her own again, she said, but she hated to be still. Her children were a welcomed distraction. She devoted energy to making sure her children “didn’t pick up on any negative, ominous vibe — a ‘Mom’s on the phone whispering’ sort of thing,” she said, explaining she did her best to avoid talking to friends and family about her illness when her boys were around. “I wanted to be fully present, and have life go on as normally as possible,” she said. “I carried that forward as I moved past the cancer, trying to create a sense of peacefulness, not stillness.” Bridging the “old” Melissa to the “new” Melissa was a road paved with pebbles she needed to sort through, she said. For women sorting through their own pebbles — women who may be juggling more than one type of life transition at a time — Melissa stressed the importance of moving forward with self confidence. “There are few wrong paths in life,” she wrote in her book. “If you don’t like the one you’re on, try another.” SWM For more information on “From Mom to Me Again” and Melissa T. Shultz, visit scarymommy.com/author/melissa-shultz. For more from writer Christine A. Krahling, visit keepcalmandwrite.com.

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FOR A GOOD CAUSE White Glove Waste & Recycling

Photography by Alice G. Patterson

The Pink Cart Program

Supporting breast cancer research isn’t just for women. Plenty of men join in the fight, too. One of them is White Glove Waste & Recycling founder Brett Maring. Brett is responsible for the sea of pink trash cans lining the streets of Baldwinsville. This month, he told us about his business and what inspired him to, as he says, “kick cancer to the curb,” through The Pink Cart program. SWM: Tell us about founding your company. Brett: I was working another job. I was doing document destruction, and we were taking pill bottles from CVS Pharmacy to an incinerator. So, I got to see the back end of the trash world. All these garbage trucks were rolling into the incinerator while we were taking care of our documents and stuff. I started watching them, and I was like, “If these people are doing it, I can do it, too.” And I can probably do it better. SWM: How did you grow the company from one customer to more than 1,500? Brett: Basically, my first two customers were friends from the neighborhood I grew up in, my friend’s parents. I told them I was starting a trash company, and they said, “Sign us up.” So, I started with the one customer, and then the next door neighbor signed up, and it just kind of slowly snowballed. SWM: How did you find the pink trash cans? Brett: We get all different sorts of waste hauler publications. I saw something about the pink bins. I thought it was just an awesome idea, and ended up contacting the company. They ended up approving me to become an exclusive hauler with them. I’ve been with them since 2011. It’s been an awesome program. 24

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SWM: Do you have family members who have been affected by breast cancer? Brett: [When I was] growing up, my aunt had breast cancer. And then, my wife’s aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. Coming up in October, she’ll be a year in remission. SWM: So, the cause hits home for you. Brett: It’s a great cause. [For] every can that I purchase, $5 goes to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer research. It’s over $10,000 that we’ve donated. It’s cool to do business with a greater cause than just paying the bills. SWM: Do you know what percentage of customers use the pink can? Brett: I’ve purchased over 2,000 pink cans. I still don’t have all of my customers converted over to pink cans from the first two years that I was in business, but we’re slowly doing that as time and money permit. SWM: Have you connected with customers affected by breast cancer because of the pink cans? Brett: I’ve met a lot of people who aren’t on my route. I’ve had people who have driven from New York City, Connecticut, Albany. People have driven all over to come buy these from me, because I do sell them to people outside of the trash service. People want to give them to their mom as a present for Mother’s Day or their birthday. SWM For more on White Glove Waste & Recycling, visit whiteglovewaste.com. Interview has been edited for length and clarity. The Pink Edition


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HEALTHY WOMAN Everyday Toxins

Clean Up Your Life By Wendy LaDue

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ome cancers are genetic, but many are caused by our everyday exposure to a high level of toxins. Many people are not aware that these toxins in our foods, personal care products and household cleaning products are cumulative in our bodies and get stored in our cells. That means they may cause cancer after years of exposure. In my book, “Clean Up Your Life!”, I aim to address this issue. You can use it as a take-along shopping guide to help minimize your everyday household toxins. It can also make you aware of toxins to avoid in common products. Here’s a little glance: Fruits and vegetables most at risk of containing higher amounts of pesticides: • Cherries • Lemons and limes • Apples • Collard greens • Nectarines • Apricots • Grapes • Peaches • Beets • Green beans • Pears • Bell peppers • Kale • Peppers • Celery

Chemicals to avoid in personal hygiene products: • Sodium lauryl or sodium laurth sulfate. These can be found in toothpaste, shampoo and body wash. • PEG. This is the main ingredient in antifreeze, and is used in many personal care products. • Phthalates. This is found in many of our products and is a carcinogenic. It’s been linked to breast cancer, as well as many other cancers. It can be found in fragrances, candles, air fresheners, dish soap and toilet paper. • Parabens (including methyl parabens). This is a carcinogenic. It’s found in cosmetics, makeup, hair care products, shaving cream and moisturizers. • Cocamide, MEA, TEA and DEA. These are hormone disruptors, and combined with other chemicals, have been linked to liver cancers and other cancers. • Triclosan. This is classified as a pesticide. It’s found in antibacterial soaps, mouthwash, body washes, cosmetics and lotions. • Formaldehyde. This is a carcinogenic. It’s found in household cleaning products, personal care products and nail polish. • Nitrbenzene. It’s a carcinogenic. It’s found in furniture polish and floor cleaners. SWM “Clean Up Your Life!” is available locally at Soul Soothings in Manlius and Mother Earth Health Foods in North Syracuse. It’s also available on Amazon and Kindle. To reach Wendy with any questions, email cleanupyourlife. urns@gmail.com.

What's cooking?

Parmesan Buñuelo Fritters with Warm Red Pepper Honey Sauce Recipe by Chef Zoé Rodz Serves 24

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup sugar 1 big egg or 2 small eggs ½ cup fresh milk ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese Have some extra cheese to sprinkle on top before serving Oil (for deep frying) Dipping Sauce: 1 cup local fresh honey Pinch of red pepper flakes to taste

Buñuelos fritters directions: In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cheese. In smaller bowl, beat the eggs and milk. Add wet ingredients gradually to dry ingredients, and beat until well-combined. Cover with plastic wrap and cool in refrigerator 10 minutes. Preheat oil to deep fry on medium to high temperature. When the oil is hot, take a tablespoon of the mixture and, with the help of another spoon, pour it into the hot oil. Let it sink, and it will rise up to the surface when done. Cook until golden. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with parmesan. Serve warm with the red pepper honey sauce. Dipping sauce directions: In a small pot, warm up the honey for a few seconds. Add the red pepper flakes to taste and stir well. Turn off the heat and put in a small bowl. Serve warm. For more on Chef Zoé Rodz, visit chefzoerodz.com.

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COVER STORY Tracey Burkey

TRACEY BURKEY VICE PRESIDENT OF VISITOR & PARTNER ENGAGEMENT AT VISIT SYRACUSE & BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR

Photography by Alice G. Patterson

Tracey was photographed in Franklin Square.

It’s amazing how we all have connected and bonded together over something that you wish you didn’t have to.” — Tracey Burkey, Vice President of Visitor & Partner Engagement at Visit Syracuse & Breast Cancer Survivor October 2017

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COVER STORY Tracey Burkey

The Story of 16 Balloons By Lorna Oppedisano

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ife was normal.” This is how Tracey Burkey, two-year breast cancer survivor and 30-year Visit Syracuse staff member, begins the story of her fight with breast cancer. Tracey had no family history of breast cancer. She dutifully had a mammogram done each year. It was just one of those things the doctor tells you to do, so you do it, she said. You put it on your list, do it, check it off and move on with your life. In March 2015, Tracey almost left that box unchecked, ready to put it off for another day. It was a busy week at work. The NCAA Championship was coming to town the following week, which meant she had teams to welcome, TV interviews to do and volunteers to train, among other tasks to complete. But the appointment was already slated for 8 a.m., and on the way to work. So, she went. And it’s a good thing she did. A few days later, she received a call that changed her life. She had breast cancer, the voice on the other end of the line told her. “I felt like I had learned a valuable lesson,” Tracey said. “Even with no family history, you have to get your mammograms, because it happens — more than we know. And I’m a story of a survivor, because I had the mammogram.”

Defining normal Born and raised in Canastota, Tracey studied at Niagara University, spent a bit of time as an exchange student in Japan and eventually began her career in New Jersey, where she worked as a travel agent. While she loved the system, she didn’t care for the job itself. Before long, she returned to Central New York, and took a position in tourism sales at the Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau, now known as Visit Syracuse. She’s been with the group ever since. “I’ve done some different roles through the years, but still absolutely love going to work every day,” Tracey said. “I’m very fortunate.” After a recent reorganization at Visit Syracuse, Tracey took over as vice president of visitor and partner engagement. No two days are the same, Tracey explained, but a main goal of her job is working with hospitality and community partners to help embrace visitors who come to Syracuse — to “roll out the red carpet,” she explained. She also works to bring large-scale events and conventions to Syracuse, including the Syracuse Nationals, NCAA Championship and the American Quilter’s Society’s annual QuiltWeek, just to name a few. In the last 30 years on the job, Tracey’s seen Syracuse grow and evolve, from the expansion of Carousel Center into Destiny USA to the revitalization of iconic older buildings downtown. Now, rather than simply anticipating what visitors to Syracuse may need, she helps envision their entire experience. Whether they’re 30

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here to visit family or for a convention, it’s that experience that counts, she said. “It’s about the flavor of the area,” she explained. “So, how do we create that for them?”

The diagnosis So, life was normal for Tracey, and that was just the way she liked it. Then came the fateful morning of the nearly-rescheduled mammogram. With no history of breast cancer in her family, mammograms were always routine — until this one. The radiologist saw a little spot, and suggested Tracey have a biopsy. When she arrived at work, she found a message from her gynecologist, telling her she had an appointment for a biopsy at the end of the week, and an appointment with a surgeon. She remembers thinking it was a little extreme. “So, I got a little nervous,” Tracey said, “but I was busy.” There are bits of the story Tracey looks back on as blessings or angels, she explained. She came across the first on the day of her biopsy — a woman she had gone to high school with in Canastota. They chatted, and the familiarity put Tracey at ease. The surgeon’s office promised to call Tracey the following Tuesday — two days before the NCAA teams were slated to come to town. Tracey and a friend went into the basement at work to take the call. Then, the surgeon said eight words Tracey hadn’t been expecting to hear: “I’m sorry to say you have breast cancer.” Tracey just glazed over. It was a good thing her friend was there to take notes, she remembered. “It’s small,” they told her. “We’re looking at probably a lumpectomy and radiation.” Her friend called Tracey’s husband, and he said he’d be right over. “No,” Tracey told him, explaining she had a staff meeting and TV interviews, and then she’d be home. “I’ll be fine.” So, she stuck with the plan and finished her day. Tracey and her husband told their children, who assured her they wouldn’t worry if she didn’t. She also talked to her neighbor, who coincidentally had worked at Upstate for Tracey’s surgeon in breast care. “She was truly a godsend to me because she talked me through things,” Tracey said. “Because it’s so overwhelming when you get this. I wasn’t very educated on it. What did I need to know? It was frightening.”

Going off-course “I found that through this, I needed a plan, and as long as you gave me a plan of what to do, I was fine,” Tracey said. She got through the NCAA tournament. She’d already scheduled a vacation afterwards, and took it. Then she went to St. Joseph’s The Pink Edition


Photography by Alice G. Patterson

Even with no family history [of breast cancer], you have to get your mammograms, because it happens — more than we know.” — Tracey Burkey, Vice President of Visitor & Partner Engagement at Visit Syracuse & Breast Cancer Survivor

Tracey holds 16 pink balloons, to symbolize her 16 rounds of chemo. October 2017

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COVER STORY Tracey Burkey

The Story of 16 Balloons from page 30 Hospital Health Center for her lumpectomy. Everything was going according to plan. But when she went to the surgeon for a follow-up, she was told the margins weren't clear. She’d have to get a second lumpectomy. OK, on to Plan B. The second lumpectomy was scheduled, and happened to fall on Tracey’s son’s 16th birthday. She’d promised to take him to get his permit. Not wanting to break her word, she figured they’d go to the DMV at 9 a.m., giving her plenty of time to get to the surgeon’s for the 10:30 a.m. appointment. “Yeah, well, we didn’t have the right paperwork,” Tracey said. She ended up breaking down in the parking lot. It’s OK, her son told her. They would just go back after the surgery, he assured her. “I felt horrible about that. Because in my mind, the more normal I could keep this, the better off I was,” she explained. “And that threw me.” Tracey continued on with the day’s plan, and had the lumpectomy. She went to the office by herself, assuring her husband she’d be fine. But then the surgeon came to speak with Tracey, and said she might want her husband to come by. Even with second lumpectomy, they couldn’t get it all, the surgeon explained. They’d need to do a mastectomy, Tracey was told. Tracey was set up with a plastic surgeon. The night before her appointment — probably the worst night of the whole ordeal, she remembered — her oncologist called. He told her he’d looked at the tests, and she’d have to undergo chemo treatments. Tracey’s oncologist also happened to have treated her father when he went through a 12-year battle with cancer. The chemo Tracey remembered from her father’s illness was filled with very intense, terrifying sessions. Her own treatments would not be the same, the oncologist assured her. Originally, the plan was surgery first, and then chemo. But after her team talked, they agreed it would be best to do chemo first. “So, I had given up even trying to update anybody by that point, because it was getting so frustrating,” Tracey said, “and I’m like, ‘Please just give me a plan and stick to it.’” The chemo was set to begin in early June. Tracey went to pick out a wig beforehand at Profiles by Kristen — another angel she met along the way, Tracey said. Her chemo treatment was broken into 16 sessions, the first four happening every other week, and then increasing to once a week for the last 12. “The first two days, I didn’t feel good,” she said. “But I got through it. And it was really not as bad as I thought. The nurses at [Hematology-Oncology Associates] are amazing.”

Paying it forward Toward the end of the chemo treatment, Tracey saw a flyer in the chemo room for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. It was two weeks away. Tracey and her husband gathered together friends and family, and her team — Tracey’s Angels — had 22 people on it. It’s through events like the Making Strides walk or her recent appointment to American Cancer Society’s board of directors 32

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that Tracey hopes to connect with and help others going through similar battles. When Tracey herself was starting chemo, a friend who’d gone through it helped her understand what she was about to face. “What can I do to thank you?” she asked her friend. “You can pay it forward,” her friend answered. During her chemo treatment, three people Tracey knew were diagnosed. She's up to eight people she checks in on now. “It’s amazing how we all have connected and bonded together over something that you wish you didn’t have to,” Tracey said.

The new normal Tracey’s last day of chemo was bittersweet. Her “new” routine — the weekly chemo, the normal doctors appointments — was coming to an end, and she really didn’t know how to feel. After bidding farewell to the staff, Tracey and her husband walked out to her car, to find it filled with 16 pink balloons and 16 roses — symbolizing each chemo treatment. Along with the roses and balloons, they’d left her a poem. It read, “Woohoo! You did it! Now take a few moments to reflect on what you’ve been through and how great you did. But then I want you to go home and let the balloons go. It’s time to put this part behind you and move forward.” When she got home, Tracey and her husband reflected on the journey, and then let the balloons go. “And I’ve done that for two other people since,” Tracey said. “It was such a way to put some closure to something.” Once the chemo was done, Tracey had the mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. In the two years since, her hair has grown back a considerable amount. But things are far from “normal,” she mused. “There’s not a normal anymore,” Tracey said. “It’s a new normal. You’re a whole different person than you ever were.” She definitely appreciates every day, even the tough ones, Tracey said. She finds strength in the team that helped her through it all, the crew at the American Cancer Society and other people who have gone through similar struggles. When she was going through her chemo, Tracey wasn’t eager to share her story. She didn’t want to be defined by breast cancer. But now, she does realize how important it is to talk about it. If her story can affect one person’s life, Tracey said, it’s worth telling. “I got dealt this card, and I got through it with help of so many people,” Tracey said. “You can get through it. Please go get your mammogram.” SWM For more information on the American Cancer Society, visit cancer.org. This year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is slated for Sunday, Oct. 15, at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College. Check-in scheduled for 8:30 a.m.; opening ceremony, 9:30 a.m.; walk begins, 10 a.m. For more information, contact Rebecca Flint at SyracuseNYStrides@cancer. org or (315) 433-5635.

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Photography by Alice G. Patterson

Tracey was photographed at Franklin Square. October 2017

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IN HER OWN WORDS The Process of Getting Diagnosed

Dr. Kara Kort ST. JOSEPH'S PHYSICIANS MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF BREAST SERVICES

Photography supplied by St. Joseph’s Breast Care Program

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The Process of Getting Diagnosed This month, Syracuse Woman Magazine caught up with the staff at St. Joseph’s Breast Care Program. They taught us about their roles in the program, and helped demystify the process. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Mary Kapfer Nurse navigator in women's imaging SWM: Explain your role in the process of helping a woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Mary: I see them at the time of the abnormal imaging, which is before they are diagnosed with breast cancer. I explain the abnormal imaging, i.e. what their mammogram or sonogram shows, as well as the biopsy process. I may be scheduling their biopsy, spending time with explanation and reassurance the day of the biopsy, and getting their results to them or their provider as soon as they are available. I may also explain needle localization and sentinel node injection, which are procedures performed in radiology the day of their surgery. SWM: What’s the most common question you get from patients? Mary: Patients ask if they are going to have a mastectomy if cancer is found. SWM: Is there a common fear or misconception you’d like to dispel? Mary: Patients come for their biopsies very afraid of pain. We use local anesthetic and do all we can to make it as comfortable as possible. Most patients tolerate the biopsy well, with little pain or discomfort.

Jennifer Michales Nurse navigator for surgery and oncology SWM: Explain your role in the process of helping a woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Jennifer: As the breast navigator, I assist patients in coordinating their care and help to enhance communication between patients and their health care team. I help to remove barriers to care and ensure they receive the support and care they need, as well as help to decrease their fear and anxiety. SWM: What do you say to a patient who’s scared? Jennifer: One of the biggest fears patients have is the fear of the unknown. Providing information to patients empowers them to make choices and play an active role in their treatment and recovery. SWM: Is there a common fear or misconception you’d like to dispel? Jennifer: A common fear or misconception is that a diagnosis of breast cancer is a death sentence. Breast cancer treatment and diagnosis have advanced significantly over the past 10 years. Cancers are being diagnosed earlier and treatments are improved, with fewer side effects. October 2017

Lisa Cico Dr. Kara Kort’s nurse practitioner SWM: Explain your role in the process of helping a woman diagnosed with breast cancer. What’s the hardest challenge in your job? Lisa: As a nurse practitioner, I am often one of the first providers to deal with a patient who has an abnormal mammogram or other abnormal breast imaging. I review the imaging findings with them, explain the process of a biopsy, as well as what a followup would entail. Even though it is only a day or two before the results are known and the patient called, patients tell me it can feel like forever. The waiting and wondering can take its toll. Certainly when a patient is told they do indeed have breast cancer, it’s often shocking, even if they’ve prepared themselves. This never gets any easier, and is certainly one of the most difficult parts of this job. Another confounding issue is that information available is not always accurate. So, I always caution patients to utilize appropriate websites. Many times, patients tell me about the difficulties in treatment of someone they know who had been treated for breast cancer; and in many cases, it’s not the same course of treatment the patient herself may require. SWM: Is there a common fear or misconception you’d like to dispel? Lisa: We see patients who feel they are at high risk for the development of breast cancer, when often, they are not. They may have had a family member who had breast cancer, but this does not always mean they are at high risk of developing breast cancer themselves. We have a few risk calculation models which can help us determine whether someone is a high risk patient, and if so, we can set them up in a program to monitor them more closely.

Mya Robertson Nurse practitioner SWM: Explain your role in the process of helping a woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Mya: I like to think of my role as an advocate for patients. There are a few situations in which I am the first provider they meet in the office. They come in to be seen and have a biopsy done the same day. I call them with the results and explain the details. When they follow up with the surgeon, I come in and see them. In many cases, I see patients post-operatively with the surgeon. I continue to follow our breast cancer patients routinely, to check for local recurrence. I also do genetic counseling and testing within the office for all the patients who qualify. SWM: What’s the hardest challenge in your job? Mya: Combating the fear patients have about breast cancer. Even patients who are not diagnosed but have a strong family history have such fear about the disease. I try to reassure them and alleviate their anxiety as much as I can. SYRACUSEWOMANMAG.COM

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IN HER OWN WORDS The Process of Getting Diagnosed

The Process of Getting Diagnosed from page 35 SWM: Is there a common fear or misconception you’d like to dispel? Mya: The most common misconception I hear from patients and even some family practice physicians is that if a patient tests positive for a broken gene (BRCA 1 or 2), they need to have bilateral mastectomies. Every patient is different and there are so many genes out there that may increase your risk of cancer, but by varying degrees. There are many options: increased surveillance, medicine — and yes, surgery is an option, but it’s not the only option.

Dr. Kara Kort Medical director SWM: Explain your role in the process of helping a woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Kara: While I am a surgeon, I often feel like surgery is only one small part of my role in my relationship with a cancer patient. One of my biggest roles is educating patients. We underestimate how important it is to really explain the disease to patients. If explained clearly, you can help patients understand cancer, and how and why we treat it. Most patients really appreciate it. SWM: What’s the most rewarding part of your job? Kara: Obviously, it’s rewarding as a surgeon when patients are pleased with surgical results or your work’s cosmetic outcome. However, it’s even more rewarding when a patient walks in for the first time with a new diagnosis of cancer — terrified, often tearful — and after we sit and talk, she leaves saying, “I feel so much better now that I understand.” It’s also a privilege to help during part of someone’s toughest times. A new cancer diagnosis almost always comes out of nowhere and is terrifying. I hate seeing patients and their families sad and scared, so, I try to make it a little less so. Our whole team has that same mentality. It’s our job to not just medically and surgically care for patients — but to help emotionally and walk them through the process.

Learn Your Options Program

Wednesday, Oct. 18 National Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day When: 6 to 8 p.m. Where: Hematology-Oncology Associates’ office, 5008 Brittonfield Parkway, E. Syracuse. Cost: Admission is free, but space is limited and reservations are requested by Oct. 16, at hoabcp@ gmail.com or (315) 952-1318.

Join Dr. Kara Kort and the Breast Cancer Partners for a “Learn Your Options” presentation and panel discussion about breast reconstruction surgery. Surgeons and their patients will be on hand to discuss everything you’ve ever wanted to know about post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. This event is a rare opportunity for the general public and health care professionals to meet experts in a comfortable setting that includes dinner. Speakers are local Breast Care Partners’ members: Philip A. Falcone, MD, FACS from Cosmetic, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; Kara Kort, MD, St. Joseph’s Physicians Surgical Services; and William Schu, MD, Central New York Surgical Physicians, P.C. Some of their patients will participate in the program’s panel discussion and be available to speak personally with audience members. Funding and promotion of the program are supported locally by the American Cancer Society, Allergan and Crouse Spirit of Women. SWM Dr. Thomas Certo and nurse, Bridgit Parody, MA, review imaging and background information in a patient profile.

SWM: Is there a common fear or misconception you’d like to dispel? Kara: Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, so, there’s a lot of it out there. But breast cancer is one disease that can vary tremendously, from a tiny finding that barely needs treatment to one that may require aggressive surgery and chemotherapy. I think when most women are diagnosed and hear the words “breast cancer,” they assume the latter. Certainly, some patients do die from breast cancer and sometimes it comes back, but most women do very well after treatment. It’s certainly scary when initially diagnosed, but that’s why it’s so important to explain everything and help them understand.

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INSPIRE Mona Smart & Diane Pluff

MONA SMART AND DIANE PLUFF

Photography by Mary Grace Johnson

CHILDREN'S HEARING AID PROGRAM LEADERS

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Hope to Hear By Riley Bunch

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or the first five years of her twin daughters’ lives, Mona Smart had no idea they were living with a hearing disability. The girls, Genevieve and Laila, excelled in school, showing no signs of being unable to hear fully. It wasn’t until kindergarten, when they both failed the school’s hearing tests, that Mona started to put the pieces together. During car rides, Mona’s comments to the girls were met with complete silence. Her husband noticed that when he would put them to bed at night and said, “I love you,” the twins replied with nothing but a smile. None of this would have made sense to Mona if she hadn’t attended an event run by her now close friend, Diane Pluff, several years ago. Diane is a mother of two daughters, Anna and Sophia. When each of her girls was tested at birth, Diane found her children both had the same genetic hearing disability. Anna, her oldest, had hearing aids by the age of seven months. Through Onondaga County’s Early Intervention Program, Diane found support during her girls’ developmental years. As they grew up, Diane realized not all families have the resources to pay for hearing aids for infants born with hearing disabilities. The hearing aids can cost up to $1,000 for two. Often times, through the county, children had access to hearing aids at school, but would have to leave them there at the end of the school day. This led Diane to spearhead a new program to help families who have children born with hearing disabilities — the Children’s Hearing Aid Program (CHAP) through Aurora of Central NewYork. “Our kids are lucky that they came into our family,” Diane said. “There are a lot of families who have to decide if they’re going to eat or buy a hearing aid. And there is not as much support for hearingimpaired [children] as there is for visual impairment.” Diane hosted a CHAP fundraising event at her home, where she met Mona. That day, Mona listened to a story from a mother whose child was hearing-impaired and had received services through CHAP. It hit home for her. “I’m sitting there and she’s saying certain things,” Mona said, “and I’m just thinking, ‘This sounds a little bit like what’s going on at my house.’”

Further tests revealed both of Mona’s girls had significant hearing loss due to enlarged sections of the inner ear. Mona’s friends and family were shocked; many of them had never noticed any challenges the girls were facing. Often times, Diane explained, children with hearing disabilities compensate with visuals to the point that the impairment goes unnoticed. After learning the high cost of hearing aids for Genevieve and Laila, Mona shared the same thought as Diane — there needs to be a program aiming to help families who cannot afford hearing aids for their children. From then on, the mothers’ friendship grew into a strong partnership. The duo worked together to lead the CHAP program, organizing fundraisers and advocating for children and families dealing with hearing disabilities. In the last five years, the program has provided more than 60 hearing aids to children within the community through grants and private funding. At the end of 2016, the pair organized one of the most successful fundraising events at The Krebs restaurant in Skaneateles, hosting hundreds of community members. The event featured celebrity bartenders, including both Diane and Mona’s husbands and local businessman Adam Weitsman. Early in the evening, the venue was so packed that guests couldn’t even enter through the front doors. The event ended up bringing in just short of $10,000 for the program, an amount much higher than anticipated, Diane said. “People really supported us,” Mona said. “People that don’t have the time donated what time they had … The amount of money we got is just a perfect example of the community we live in. When you tell people something is important to you, they show up.” The pair hopes to further the program by finding more audiologists willing to donate their time to help hearing-impaired children within the community. “That’s my most important job,” Mona said, “to advocate for my kids and for others who don’t have people that are advocating for them. Everybody has a right to hear … and to live the fullest life they possibly can.” SWM For more information about the Children’s Hearing Aid Program at Aurora of Central New York, visit auroraofcny.org/services/childyouth-services.

The amount of money we got is just a perfect example of the community we live in. When you tell people something is important to you, they show up.” — Mona Smart, co-leader of the Children’s Hearing Aid Program through Aurora of Central New York From left: Mona Smart and Diane Pluff, the leaders of the Children’s Hearing Aid Program through Aurora of Central New York, were photographed at Arad Evans Inn, Fayetteville. October 2017

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Support local, women-owned businesses

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INSPIRE Kathy Conese

KATHY CONESE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER AND CERVICAL CANCER SURVIVOR

Photography by Alexis Emm

When you're going through something, you want somebody who's been through it, because there are so many unknowns.” — Kathy Conese, kindergarten teacher and cervical cancer survivor

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Loving Each Day By Kathryn Walsh

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ome teachers dread September. Kathy Conese looks forward to it. She adores her job, teaching kindergarten at Allen Road Elementary School in North Syracuse. After working as a software engineer, she taught fifth grade for 19 years before switching to kindergarten about five years ago, when the North Syracuse Central district moved to a full-day program. Part of the fun, she said, is how joyful kindergartners are. “They just love life,” Kathy said. “So, they’re wonderful to be around, because that’s why we’re here, just to enjoy every day.” That’s a lesson she learned the hard way. Fifteen years ago, the results of Kathy’s routine pap smear were irregular. Her doctor wanted to do some tests, but reassured her that everything would probably be fine. It wasn’t. One Wednesday afternoon in March, she was teaching her fifth-graders when her principal came to the door. Kathy’s doctor was on the phone, and he needed to talk to her. It couldn’t wait. While another teacher stayed with her class, Kathy went to answer her doctor’s call. “He just said that what I had was bad and that my husband and I needed to be in his office at 6 a.m. the next morning, and that my teaching for the year was done,” she remembered. Early on Thursday morning, her doctor delivered the news: Kathy had an invasive, fast-moving type of cervical cancer. He warned her not to look at anything about her cancer on the internet. The prognosis wasn’t good. On Monday, just four days after her diagnosis, Kathy underwent a nine-hour-long surgery, followed by an eight-day hospital stay and a long and difficult recovery. “I just missed the next three months of my life,” she said. One of the hardest parts of that terrible time was how traumatized her students were. She was there one day, and gone the next. “I didn’t know what to tell them when I left that Wednesday,” she said. “My school handled it beautifully, but they were 10 years old, so, then they worried. It was awful.” She was able to go back and see them once before the school year ended. Kathy had the support of her husband, three children, coworkers and a large circle of friends, but she wanted to connect

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with someone else who had survived the same type of rare and aggressive cancer she had. “When you’re going through something, you want somebody who’s been through it,” she said, “because there are so many unknowns.” So, at every six-week checkup, Kathy asked her oncologist, Dr. Douglas Bunn, if he had found a survivor for her to contact. And every time, he said no. She decided to stop asking. Instead, Kathy found support close to home. She started going to a support group for women affected by gynecological cancers, and she got involved in Maureen’s Hope, a foundation run by her friend, Susan Bertrand, in honor of Susan’s sister, who had died from the same type of cancer Kathy survived. The organization provides support and services to help people affected by cancer — everything from helping with bills to organizing spa days for moms of children battling cancer. “[Susan] does phenomenal things for people,” Kathy said. Coming close to losing her own life and spending time supporting families going through the same struggle inspired Kathy to make the most of every opportunity. Recently, she made a spurof-the-moment decision to accompany her son, Michael, on a volunteer trip to teach English in Cusco, Peru, during her February break. Staying with a local family was a highlight of the trip, she said. “You can go and you can be a tourist,” Kathy said, “but when you live with the people and you’re immersed in their culture and their food, you try so many amazing things.” Back home in Liverpool, gathering around the table with her family is one of Kathy’s greatest joys. Her three children still live in the area. Two are engineers, like Kathy was and her husband still is. The third is a kindergarten teacher. Every Sunday, they gather for a big family dinner and sit at the table late into the night. Those dinners are a simple joy; as Kathy knows, those are the best kind. Cancer was a difficult journey, she admitted. “But what it taught me was really to enjoy every day,” Kathy said. “I get up in the morning and be the best I can be to the people around me. And that’s all we can ask for, right?” SWM For more information on Maureen’s Hope, visit maureenshope.org.

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INSPIRE Cheryl Heller

CHERYL HELLER

Photography by Alexis Emm

FOUR-TIME CANCER SURVIVOR

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Seeking the Silver Lining By Lorna Oppedisano

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he tale of local business owner and four-time cancer survivor She admits that while it may now appear she took everything Cheryl Heller’s battles with the disease starts out like many in stride, she’s had her “not-so-heroic moments.” other busy women’s stories. “But you have a choice,” she said. “You have a choice about “I was concentrating on so many other parts of my life at that anything that happens to you in life.” point, that I didn’t take care of myself,” Cheryl said. “I didn’t think Cheryl’s choice involved her faith. There were days she would about me.” cry and wonder why she’d gotten cancer not just once or twice, It had been eight years since Cheryl had visited her gynecologist. but four times. Sometimes she would even question her beliefs, The last time she was there, the doctor found some irregularities. she said. But then, as it happens, life had gotten in the way. To work through everything, Cheryl embarked on a very Years later, after going through a difficult personal period, personal journey. Cheryl decided she wanted to take back her life. Among other “I have to honestly say I made a choice to find out exactly who changes, that meant developing the yearly habit of getting a [God] was,” she said, explaining that while she’d believed since she physical and pap smear. was 16 years old, it wasn’t until her battles with cancer that she A week after getting the exam done, her doctor called with found what her own definition of faith and God meant to her. devastating news. Cheryl had uterine cancer. Now that cancer is 10 years behind her, Cheryl is, in a way, She had a hysterectomy, but only six months later, began grateful for the struggles she went through. The experience experiencing other symptoms. helped her to grow, she explained. Then, one morning, Cheryl found “Those four really dark times, she couldn’t stand up and had pain in hard times, in my life served to not her side. The doctors first thought she only heal me physically, but heal me You have a choice about had appendicitis, but after tests, emotionally,” she said. “Heal my anything that happens to found it was colon cancer. She was soul, not just my body.” assigned an oncologist, and underIn the last decade, Cheryl hasn’t you in life.” — Cheryl Heller, went treatment. been very vocal about those years she four-time cancer survivor That wasn’t the end of the battle. battled with cancer. While some people During a doctor’s appointment only six “war loudly,” others “war quietly,” months later, she found she had cancer she said. But people who have needed in her descending colon. to glean support from her journey “So, there’s cancer number three,” Cheryl said. do tend to cross her path, she said. Then, three years after that, during her yearly checkup, There are days she does worry about her health. When the time the doctors found malt lymphoma. Cheryl and her team — comes for doctors’ appointments, she does wonder. But she tries “an extremely amazing group of doctors,” she said with pride — to be intentional with her life, and remember what a blessing fought that, too. she’s been given, she said. To date, she hasn’t had an occurrence in 10 years. “And now, do I ever miss a yearly checkup?” Cheryl said. If you met Cheryl for the first time — or even second, “Nope!” SWM third or fourth time — chances are you wouldn’t realize she’s a cancer survivor. She had cancer, but cancer didn’t have her, Cheryl owns The Savvy Chick, located at 1 W. Genesee St. in Baldwinsville. she explained. For more information, visit facebook.com/thesavvychickboutique. That’s not to say the experience she went through didn’t She also founded A Cause to Celebrate, an annual event that aims to affect her, though. raise funds and awareness for local nonprofits. To find out more, “It changes you forever,” Cheryl said. visit bvillecausetocelebrate.com.

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UPCOMING SWM Events Throughout October Baking for Breast Cancer What: Half of proceeds from Phoebe’s raspberry creme brûlée will be donated to Positively Pink Packages. Where: Phoebe’s Restaurant and Coffee Lounge, 900 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. Info: phoebessyracuse.com. Tuesday, Oct. 3 Social Media Marketing and Advertising Workshop When: 8:30 to 11 a.m. What: Workshop led by Chris Lorence, presented by Small Business Development Center. Cost: Centerstate CEO members, $15; nonmembers, $25. Where: Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, 121 E. First St., Oswego. Info: centerstateceo.com. Tuesday, Oct. 3 Business After Hours and Member Showcase When: 5 to 7 p.m. What: Networking presented by Centerstate CEO. Appetizers and beverage ticket provided. Cost: Check online for details. Where: Movie Tavern, 180 Township Blvd., Camillus. Info: centerstateceo.com. Wednesday, Oct. 4 WBOC Monthly Meeting When: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. What: Presentation by Laura Serway, co-owner of Laci’s Tapas Bar, about financial details that contribute to success. Cost: $25; member, $10. Where: Genesee Grande Hotel, 1060 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. Info: wboconnection.org. Wednesday, Oct. 4 1 Million Cups When: Doors open, 8:30 a.m.; presentation, 9 to 10 a.m. What: Presentations by local early-stage startup companies aim to draw feedback from peers, mentors, educators and advisors. Open to the public. Cost: Free admission. Where: Syracuse CoWorks, 201 E. Jefferson St., Syracuse. Info: 1millioncups.com/syracuse. Thursday, Oct. 5 Sun Awards When: 4 to 6:30 p.m. What: Fourth annual event recognizes excellence in sustainable efforts, and includes guest speakers, networking, exhibitors and more. Presented by BizEventz. Cost: $45. Where: Marriott Syracuse Downtown, Info: cnybj.com.

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Thursday, Oct. 5 Connecting the Dots: a forum concerning issues facing women When: 8 to 9:15 a.m. What: Presented by Women’s Fund of CNY in collaboration with Thursday Morning Roundtable. Cost: Free admission. Where: Rosamond Gifford Zoo, 1 Conservation Place, Syracuse. Info: womensfundofcny.org. Fridays, Oct. 6, 13 & 20 Food Truck + Music Fridays When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. What: Includes food truck fare, live music and art. Cost: Free admission. Where: Everson Community Plaza, 401 Harrison St., Syracuse. Info: everson.org/connect/events. Saturday, Oct. 7 EXITO! Business Planning/ Growth Program for Latina Women When: 1 to 4 p.m. What: Online and classroom training led by Marisol Hernandez, CNY Latino, and Alex Waterbury, WISE Women's Business Center. Cost: Free admission. Where: WISE Women’s Business Center, 235 Harrison St., Syracuse. Info: wisecenter.org. Tuesday, Oct. 10 46th Annual Civic Celebration When: Noon to 1:30p.m. What: The Salvation Army fundraiser featuring guest speaker, hall of fame quarterback, Jim Kelly. Cost: $150. Where: The Oncenter, 800 S. State St., Syracuse. Info: salvationarmy.org. Thursday, Oct. 10 Best Places to Work Awards When: 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. What: Highlights this year’s winners. Presented by BizEventz. Cost: $60. Where: Drumlins Country Club, 800 Nottingham Road, Syracuse. Info: cnybj.com. Friday, Oct. 11 2017 Economic Champions Luncheon When: Noon to 1:30 p.m. What: Celebrates outstanding businesses and organizations. Cost: Check online for details. Where: Oncenter, 800 S. State St., Syracuse. Info: centerstateceo.com.

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Sunday, Oct. 13 Film Talks When: 6 to 9 p.m. What: The Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology presents talk by American director, Jack Sholder. Cost: Free event; registration required. Where: Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, 500 S. Franklin St., Syracuse. Info: most.org. Saturday, Oct. 14 Grand Opening of Cocaire Introducing July SWM cover woman, Chef4Rent’s DeAnna Germano, in her very own brick-and-mortar location! When: 5 to 10 p.m. Where: 101 W. Main St., Elbridge. Tuesday, Oct. 17 Spirit of American Women When: Registration, 5:30 p.m.; program, 6 to 8 p.m. What: Annual celebration of empowerment and accomplishments of women, girls and families served through the YWCA programs. Includes hors d’oeuvres, speakers, silent auction, cash bar and more. Cost: $50. Where: Genesee Grande Hotel, 1060 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. Info: ywca-syracuse.org. Wednesday, Oct. 18 Speed Networking When: Registration, 7:30 a.m.; program, 8 to 10 a.m. What: Networking presented by Centerstate CEO. Breakfast provided by Peppino’s Catering. Cost: Check online for details. Where: 217 Lawrence Road E., North Syracuse. Info: centerstateceo.com Friday, Oct. 20 & Sunday, Oct. 22 Syracuse Opera presents: Carmen When: Friday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. What: Directed and choreographed by Anthony Salatino. Conducted by Christian Capocaccia. Cost: Tickets start at $26. Where: Mulroy Civic Center, 421 Montgomery St., Syracuse. Info: syracuseopera.org/season/carmen. Saturday, Oct. 21 Masquerade Dance When: 8 p.m. to midnight. What: Shades of Inspiration breast cancer support group event includes fun, food and prizes. Cost: $50, advance sale only. Where: Sheraton University Hotel, 801 University Ave., Syracuse. Info: facebook.com/ShadesOfInspirationInc. Saturdays & Sundays, Oct. 21, 22, 28 & 29 Zoo Boo When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. What: Trick-or-treat with Halloween party. Cost: Members, $8; nonmembers, $8 in addition to zoo admission. Where: Rosamond Gifford Zoo, 1 Conservation Place, Syracuse. Info: rosamondgiffordzoo.org/upcoming-events. October 2017

Sunday, Oct. 22 Fearless Family Fest When: Noon to 3 p.m. What: Family-friendly event includes trick-or-treat trail, games, contests, vendors and more. Costumes encouraged. Proceeds benefit Charity for Children. Cost: $6. Where: Frightmare Farms, 4816 State Route 49, Palermo. Info: frightmarefarms.net Tuesday, Oct. 24 Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series presents Nathaniel Philbrick When: 7:30 p.m. What: Presentation by best-selling author. Cost: $30 to $35. Where: Mulroy Civic Center, 421 Montgomery St., Syracuse. Info: foclsyracuse.org. Thursday, Oct. 26 Syracuse Go Red for Women Luncheon When: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. What: Includes networking, program and luncheon. Cost: $100. Where: Oncenter Convention Center, 800 S. State St., Syracuse. Info: heart.org. Thursday, Oct. 26 Excellence in Healthcare When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. What: Recognizes this year’s winning leaders, innovators and companies; includes open bar, food and dessert stations, live music, networking and more. Cost: Check online for ticketing details. Where: Oncenter, 800 S. State St., Syracuse. Info: cnybj.com. Thursday, Oct. 26 Gallery Walk with Suné Woods When: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. What: Tour “Suné Woods: When a heart scatter, scatter, scatter” exhibition with the artist. Cost: Free with museum admission. Where: Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison St., Syracuse. Info: everson.org/connect/events/gallery-walk-sune-woods-1. Saturday, Oct. 28 Syracuse Catholic Women’s Conference When: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. What: Eighth annual conference features Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC; Sr. Ignatia Henneberry, OSF; and Michael Dopp as speakers. Cost: $55. Where: Oncenter, 800 S. State St., Syracuse. Info: syracusecatholicwomen.org.

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movers AND Shakers Local couples win dance competition

In late July, Octavian Para, Anna Antonyan, Valeria Mkrtchian and Ivan Sovetov attended the Fred Astaire World Championships, at the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas. They competed in several professional programs, including American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Latin and International Standard. Octavian and Ana were named world champions in American Smooth, and Ivan and Valeria won the bronze title. Both couples are preparing to compete again in Orlando at the Fred Astaire National Championship, “Puttin’ on the Ritz."

Credit union hires senior systems analyst The Summit Federal Credit Union has hired Michelle Brundage as senior systems analyst. Michelle previously worked as manager, applications systems for AmeriCU Credit Union, where she was employed for 22 years. Michelle, who lives in Whitesboro, will be based in Central New York.

Local nonprofit awarded PAWS of CNY, Inc., a provider of pet therapy to the Central New York area, has been recognized by Great Nonprofits as one of its “Top-Rated Nonprofit Organization in 2017.” PAWS of CNY, Inc., has helped patients in nursing homes, hospitals, school children and college students by sharing with them the practice of pet therapy and the services associate with it. These services include pet-assisted therapies, pet-assisted activities, youth reading programs, education programs and coming to colleges for the students to interact with the pets to help them ease their stress over school work and finals. With more than 200 volunteers across the Onondaga, Oswego, Cortland, Madison and Cayuga Counties, PAWS of CNY, Inc., has visited 55 facilities in Central New York.

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Junior League welcomes new members

The Junior League of Syracuse, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, recently announced that last spring, the league welcomed a new membership class of nine. The members, from across Central New York, spent their provisional year learning about the league and engaging in volunteerism with organizations ranging from Vera House to the Rescue Mission. They also participated in the Holiday Shoppes, the Junior League of Syracuse’s annual fundraiser held at the Fairgrounds each November. This spring, they helped with Corks and Forks, a fundraiser that includes a wine pull and raffle. The nine new members became active in May.

Innovation, Compassion Hallmarks of Crouse Breast Health Care Program

In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,410 new non-invasive cases. These statistics come from breastcancer.org, yet the nonprofit organization also reports death rates from the disease have been decreasing since 1989. A key contributor to survival is the technological advances that make early detection possible. The Dr. Hadley J. Falk Breast Health Center at Crouse Hospital, the first area program to be designated a Breast Center of Excellence, offers the latest in 3D imaging technology, as well as the area’s most experienced radiologists. To make an appointment for your mammogram or diagnostic test, call 315-470-5880 or visit crouse.org/mammoappt. Submitted information has been edited for length and clarity.

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Profile for Lorna Oppedisano

Syracuse Woman Magazine October 2017  

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Syracuse Woman Magazine October 2017  

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