Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Seeking Sponsors for the Evelyn Knapp "Run to Remember"...Mark you calendars 11/23/14

As with all fundraisers there are a plethora of ways to help Strength for Life... 
and all suggestions are welcome.

We had  great success last year raising over $20,000 and we are thankful to everyone who contributed time, finances and talent to this success.  

If you know a company that is willing to sponsor a portion of our event 
we appreciate you reaching to them on our behalf.  

Another way to help is to fundraise for the 5K challenging run or the 3K Boardwalk event. 
Every dollar helps, no amount is too small.

We are also seeking in-kind donations for raffles - 
be creative the runners and walkers will appreciate your efforts. 

Call us at 631-675-6513 or email strengthforlife@optonline.net to discuss any/all your ideas.

Be a part of the Five Year Survival "Run to Remember"

Monday, June 30, 2014

Nutrition and Cancer

Great Video ...

 Dr. Donald Abrams of UCSF sifts through some of the complex data on the relationship between nutrition and cancer and endeavors to help separate fact from fiction in this quickly moving field. Series: Integrative Medicine Today [5/2010] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 17359]

Nutrition and Cancer

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid

Ask Dr. Weil: Is It Safe To Eat Raw Mushrooms?

Andrew Weil, MD
Q: Is it true that you should never eat mushrooms raw?–Lisa Enslow, 48, Chatham, NJ
A: Yes. Mushrooms have very tough cell walls and are essentially indigestible if you don't cook them. Thoroughly heating them releases the nutrients they contain, including protein, B vitamins, and minerals, as well as a wide range of novel compounds not found in other foods. In Asian traditions, mushrooms are regarded as both food and medicine because they can support the body's natural defenses by enhancing the immune system.
But there are other reasons to cook your mushrooms. Raw mushrooms contain small amounts of toxins, including some compounds that are considered carcinogens. These are destroyed by cooking them thoroughly. Broiling or grilling is best.
Because of these concerns and because they offer little in the way of improving health, common button mushrooms are best avoided. But the types eaten in Asia—shiitake, maitake, oyster mushrooms, and enoki—provide a range of health benefits. The shiitake may be my favorite: It appears to enhance immunity and reduce the risk of several types of cancer. Maitake contains complex sugars called beta-glucans that have immune-enhancing effects. Oyster mushrooms contain compounds that can help address high cholesterol. Other mushrooms are used strictly in traditional medicinal preparations.Cordyceps mushrooms are used to increase aerobic capacity and support lung function. Reishi helps fight cancer. Lion's Mane contains a nerve-growth compound that has potential for treating nerve disorders. Finally, mushrooms that have been exposed to the sun will contain vitamin D, and you can also increase dried mushrooms' D content by leaving them to sit in sunlight.
I travel a great deal and am in contact with many people. Mushrooms are a mainstay of my diet and help support my immune system. I also take two supplements that are mushroom blends: MyCommunity and Stamets 7, both from a company called Fungi Perfecti.
ANDREW WEIL, MD, is founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona. 
For more information, go to DrWeil.com.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Powerful Acceptance Speech from our Recognition Honoree "EMPOWER"

In case you need a refresher click here for the Recap of the Recognition Dinner

And  here is the acceptance speech that brought the house to tears and laughter.  Bravo my friend, Annette.

I would like to thank the academy, my producers, the production company....
OOPS! Wrong venue!
Happy Birthday to you (sung/whispered ala Marilyn Monroe)
Oh, sorry, Chemo Brain!


Fear, anxiety, depression, confusion, darkness, isolation, panic, constant daily pain....

Then HOPE.

Cancer is not all that bad you see...
It forces us to evaluate what is important in our lives, what we hold dear to us, and makes us realize not to waste precious time on bull shit.

It clearly reminds us that each moment of life is a treasured gift and should not be squandered on negative thoughts or actions.

You become acutely aware of and admire the beauty of a sunset.

You appreciate your loved ones on a deeper level.

You marvel at the majesty of a blooming flower.

You make time for what is important, especially yourself.

You firmly believe in hope and karma.

I would like to take a moment to honor and thank Evelyn Knapp. I feel that it is divine intervention that we are all gathered here today.* Clearly Evelyn was a very special person who touched the lives of many, and continues to touch even more. Her passion and spirit enabled the amazing Strength for Life organization to be born. Jacqui & Debbie have kept her memory and mission alive through selflessly giving strength, hope and empowerment to scores of cancer patients.

I want to thank Strength for Life not only for honoring me today, but for the consistent, uplifting support they give. Whether it is free exercise, nutritional guidance, wellness retreats or simply friendship, they are an endless support for their participants.

I am often asked how I have stayed so strong and positive during my 4 year battle with 2 primary cancers.

Enduring:    5 serious infections
                   4 organ surgeries
                   3 courses of chemo
                   2 times completely bald
                   And a partridge in a pear tree

It was largely due to being born in Brooklyn and I don't consider myself a survivor, I am a warrior! I consider my scars badges of honor and I have used my keen sense of humor. But more so, due to my super supportive friends both old and new, and my fabulous family.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you.

To my parents, who provided a safe and comfortable environment and have helped me through so many days when I could not get out of bed over the past four years.

To my daughter Amanda, who makes her mama proud on a consistent basis. She is always kind, generous and cheerful. She also sat tirelessly at my side during my early
treatments, at uncountable hospital stays, all while needing to be other places, in order to graduate honors college. She has been one of my biggest joys since she was born.

To my new friends, Priscilla, Christie, Becky & Laura, who met a broken woman, post treatments. They have seen me struggle, dealt with my new found lack of patience and accepted and loved me, realizing that I am more than this beast that I wrestle with every few months. They have offered their time, their strength, their smile, very often when mine is waning.

To my old friends, Jae, Ruth, Brittany, who have hung in there, and kept my spirits high when I would otherwise be disheartened. They watched my struggle and been steadfast friends.

To my Best Friend, Claire who works an average of 10-12 hours a day, and often weekends, but all I had to do was mention a surgery, or need the ER and in a heartbeat, she would drop everything and be at my side for endless hours, many times throughout the night, with me begging her to go home. She gave me the gift of peace of mind every time I went into surgery or was admitted to the hospital.

To my oncology nurse Kim. A blessing from day one, she has been my sounding board, my 'xanax', my sanity. She very unselfishly has given me her knowledge, her caring heart, every time and anytime I needed it during the roller coaster treatments I have been through. I know for a fact that, I would not be standing here today without her unwavering strength and compassion. She is truly an angel on earth.

Finally, if you know me at all, you know that music is an important part of my life and joy. So when I could not bring myself to face anyone, even myself, I would turn on my Ipod and listen...

There was an array of music, from a plethora of artists, but most effective for me was Lady Gaga. Particularly "Marry the Night" an anthem about never giving in or giving up.
"I'm gonna marry the night
I won't give up on my life
I'm a Warrior Queen
Live passionately tonight"

This warrior queen would like to wish you all health, happiness and blessings as I have had in my life

          ~Annette Gerani

*The Recognition Dinner was held on the anniversary of Evelyn’s passing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Thank you for your support of the 'Third Annual Recognition Dinner'

The night is over and event was a huge success, and now that we have time to breathe we want to offer our sincerest thanks for your support of our Recognition Dinner 2014. The honorees, three amazing women who inspire, strengthen and empower others are a blessing for Strength for Life, and we were so happy to present our first ‘Evelyn Knapp Benevolence’ award.

Your support helped Strength for Life raise $8000 towards the mission of providing free exercise classes and wellness weekends to people living with cancer and survivors. Strength for Life is able to impact the lives of cancer survivors by your generous sponsorship. Thank you!

As you may know, Strength for Life was formed in memory of Evelyn Knapp, an exercise physiologist, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2005.  After Evelyn’s diagnosis, she continued to exercise saying it gave her a feeling of control in an uncontrollable situation. Aside from the psychological benefits of exercising during treatment, studies have shown that there are many physiological benefits as well.  The newest American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines suggests that patients who exercise through treatment have up to a 50% increase in survival rate.

Since 2007, when Strength for Life was officially formed, we have helped over 1000 cancer patients and survivors regain their “strength for life”. We hold classes at Stony Brook Cancer Center, Winthrop University, Mather Hospital, STARS Rehab (part of NSLIJ), Long Island Cancer Wellness Center, and our newest location at the Commack JCC Strength for Life is very active with support groups throughout Long Island we are on the advisory committee for the Suffolk County Cancer Awareness Task Force.  In addition, we were honored to be voted 2013 LIWA (Long Island Women’s Agenda) Organization of the Year. Strength for Life has a ‘5’ star rating on “Great Non Profits” with comments from our clients stating they had a “life changing”, “powerful” and “nurturing” experience.
Our mission is to educate survivors and the general public how to use exercise as a complementary therapy to increase the odds of survival; and how exercise as prevention decreases the risk of chronic diseases.  The exercise prescribed is doable and necessary, so to quote Nike – “just do it!”

Thank you!

Jacqui Errico  & Debbie Hughes


see previous posts for a recap of the event...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Shop AmazonSmile for an extra donation to Strength for Life

In honor of Dad, shop at AmazonSmile through 6/15/14 
and Amazon will donate an extra $5 to Strength For Life Inc. 

Click here to get started: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/26-0672139

Monday, June 2, 2014

Recognition Dinner (part 2) - special thanks!

39 Gift Baskets

These were no ordinary small gifts presented -
 we had over $5000 in gifts displayed.

Thank you!!!

Special thanks to MGM 
(Macri, Greenpsan & Moramarco)Law Firm 
for the Keurig and Coffee Basket 
Denise Chapman for the Case of Wine
to all our solicitors as well as any gift donors I may have missed!!!

To all who attended, physically and/or in spirit!!


Third Annual Recognition Dinner Recap

Fabulous Evening....the first event that went so smoothly.  So you know there were many hands making that happen.  Shout out to our 'day of' workers...Lisa Gruenfelder, Peggy Goutink, Barbara Donnellan, Karen F (way too complicated a name...aka Lisa's sister-in-law), Teresa Doherty and Denise DeCarlo Humphrey.

There are also nerves...will they come?  will I botch up a word speaking? do I have to speak? no band? deejay? enough raffles? venues?  what day, what time?  ....these worries are endless...Debbie and I tried very hard to allay our fears and concerns because it always works out...historically we went into the last week needing guests and each time we sold out ...even on the last day we were getting requests to come.....breathe.

And our friends and family not only put up with us, but they get it!!.. and remind us 'it will be fine."  But you may know we don't want "fine" although with china fine is a great description - we want "fabulous"...or fabulous enough to really celebrate these women.

That is what this night is about and it is worth every effort when we can share their stories and have others realize why they were chosen as our honorees.

This annual event is based on our motto to inspire, empower and strengthen, with each survivor representing one of the three words, but just like Evelyn each honoree past and present bears all these aspects. This year we are excited to present our first annual “Evelyn Knapp Benevolence” Award to one of the most generous and gracious supporters we have. 

Annette, Maryann & Margaret

Let me introduce our honorees...(words taken from the night's introductions)

Inspire - Maryann Graham

Inspire- to fill with enlivening emotion, to affect and guide, 
to stimulate to action, to motivate.... 

Enlivening emotion - oh yeah!! Any one who knows Maryann would say that this is the perfect way to describe her! Ready to incite a party at all costs, ask her about how she wooed the Harlem Globe Trotters using only a few small boxes of cereal at one of our last wellness retreats.

You can normally identify her by her fingernails as oppose to her finger prints....they usually have some inspiring script written on them like her most recent message “bleep cancer”..... she does love nails, she even polished nails to raise money for the Evelyn Knapp Memorial Run this past November.

While nails make Maryann happy so does going into the city to see “the kid” we only learned tonight 'Amanda' is her daughter's name.

So these things put a smile on her face, but her love for animals can bring her to tears.

Andy Rooney said that animal owners are “nicer than the average person”. Animals love unconditionally, forgive immediately, they donʼt pretend to like you and they donʼt disappoint. It is no wonder that you have a bond with all animals, their positive attributes mirror your personality.

Maryann has really put herself on the front lines for us , she has raised an enormous amount of money for last years run and she continues to support us in everything she does whether it be soliciting donations or just spreading the word about Strength for Life. Recently while at a cancer seminar she called to reprimand us for not having brochures displayed there.

Maryann has such comfort and is so uplifting to those around her, she is the person you want to be seated next to because her energy is so infectious - she truly inspires others to embrace life, to enjoy life and to live every moment to the fullest....we are thankful to have you in our circle, Maryann, and are blessed to know you!!

Maryann Graham


Empower - Annette Gerani

Breast cancer…and then some….4 surgeries in 3 years…countless number of chemo and radiation therapies…a gifted artist …a gifted artist forced to adapt to her temporary limitations, going from beautiful  murals to intimate works of amazing artistry.

The meaning of the word Empower….
The quality to take control of your life and become         
stronger and more confident…..clearly this is what Annette has done and why she is our “empower” honoree.

As with what appears to be this years theme, Annette also like to display poignant messages about what she feels cancer should do ….

She is an animal lover, as well, particularly cats – especially Chester!

She has become quite a gifted “bitstrip” master and I have to be careful about what is being said here because I know I will become a comic strip before the end of this evening…..Jacqui has been in more than a few hilarious ones- sometimes taking the form of different shapes, sizes and ages…

A little more about Annette---she loves Lady Gaga, Marilyn Monroe and the meatball place – (that’s a plug for you,  Donna Reale)– but those that take center stage are Amanda – her daughter and her niece affectionately nicknamed “mini me.”

Annette is passionate, head strong, resolute in her beliefs, grounded and extremely compassionate – her softer side may not be initially apparent but spend just a little time with her and you will experience her empathy.

She is passionate about empowering others on their cancer journey and she certainly holds no bars in advising them. Challenged continuously for the last 4 years – and still choosing to use her humor and artistry to get through each trial lands her a special spot on the Strength for Life tapestry.

Annette Gerani

(side bar)Now let me tell you about the 'show stopping' acceptance speech from Annette - 
she twirled and sang excerpts from Lady Gaga tunes...got to love her! 
Next year she will be the emcee!  


Strengthen - Margaret McAdorey

The meaning of Strength, is to have courage, to persevere, to withstand adversity, fear or difficulty. As we sat down to consider our survivors as honorees we were in awe of all you endured in such a short time and it was clear to us that “strengthen” was the perfect fit.
In March of 2011 , Margaret’s husband had major surgery for a heart condition which turned into a lengthy, complicated hospital and rehab stay - during this time, she had to have surgery for a complex ovarian cyst. All seemed fine until Margaret got the call a week after her surgery that she had ovarian cancer – it happened to be on the same day her husband returned home after his 5 week hospital and rehab stay.

Margaret's cancer journey officially began in May 2011 after her 2nd surgery to evaluate the extent of the cancer. It was deemed an aggressive form.  Months of chemotherapy totally depleted her strength and endurance and, worse yet, her confidence in her ability to accomplish everyday tasks.

She shares a story of how she remembers looking up a flight of stairs and feeling so defeated with just the thought of having to actually climb them. But being defeated was not what Margaret had in mind, slowly and with great perseverance she worked her way back to feeling not only like “herself” but maybe even better!

Margaret's daughter is the one responsible for finding Strength for Life for her - she brought her a workout outfit and told her to go to the Stony Brook Class – we are so thankful to her daughter for the introduction. Class would not be the same without Margaret - she is known as the “official counter” which others in the class
are grateful for! She does incredible walking lunges, spanning the whole length of SB Cancer Center! And she is smiling during all of it!!

She is a small package with a big punch, always up for any challenge – she has the “I CAN” attitude that everyone needs to adopt. To Margaret it seems to come naturally.

Strengthen is what you represent for your family, for other survivors and for us... and we thank you for sharing yourself with us!  

Margaret McAdorey


First Annual “Evelyn Knapp Benevolence Award”  
Donna Reale.

(Debbie speaking) Donna and I have been friends since we were 'tweens' and that was before the term tween was coined! So it has been awhile, and although she certainly deserves an award for putting up with me for that long that is not why she is being honored her tonight.

When Strength for Life was form she was there to support in anyway, she became our ‘go to person’ for advice since our first attempt at fundraising, Jac and I always say that we know exercise but we fly by the seat of our pants for everything else that comes along with running a non profit. We are forced to learn as we go and Donna has been an invaluable resource.

Her standard lines are “what do you need?” and “what can I do?”

She comes from a place of true generosity and is so humble, always wanting to remain in the background. Kind of why she is not loving us for this award!

But please know that this is not me!  SFL has been talking about doing an Evelyn Knapp award of some kind and being that Evelyn gave so much of herself to others we knew that 'benevolence' fit the honor.

The moment we decided on incorporating this into our annual event the first thing  everyone involved said was that Donna from 'Popei's ' should be the first recipient –
- so there you have it - unanimous vote.

When I called 'D' to let her know that she was nominated for this award, she was like why are you doing that?? no way, - my response was “because you deserve to be recognized” then she said - “Deb, thank you is enough

So thank you Donna!

Donna offers before we can even ask and gives more than we would ever expect. 
Her restaurant has been a venue for fundraisers and she even provided incredible off site catering for our first recognition dinner – people are still talking about the food that was served that night!

Her commitment to SFL began maybe even before she fully understood the realm of our organization. But in 2010 Donna accompanied her sister in law, Toni Ann who has since lost her battled cancer, to a wellness retreat and this is where Donna witnessed first hand what Strength for Life does.

I remember Donna commenting at the end of the retreat that she was so proud of our work and so impressed with what we do – these comments meant the world to me.

A quote by Mother Teresa that reminds us of Donna is
“It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

The dollar amount of the generosity to our small non profit is monumental to us,  
but the genuine gift from her heart is immeasurable.

Thank you Donna for your friendship and your support and your commitment to Strength for Life, we are pleased to present you with this "Proclamation" from the Legislator of Patchogue.

Donna Reale & Debbie Hughes


......to be continued