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2013 Gloria Gemma Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life Calendar Will Feature Young Survivor From Providence:

Oct 11th 2012

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundations Annual Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life", which takes place in Downtown Providence on Columbus Day weekend, is the largest breast cancer awareness event in the Northeast. 

The Foundation will unveil the 2013 Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life Calendar at a kickoff event on Friday, October 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Marriott, 1 Orms Street in Providence. The event is free and open to the public. 

The calendar features twelve Rhode Island women who each received a breast cancer diagnosis before the age of 40, eleven survivors and Kate Kenworthy-Rodrigues who lost her life to breast cancer earlier this year. The theme of this years event, Breast cancer is not just your grandmothers disease, is designed to remind Rhode Islanders of the new, younger face of breast cancer, the third-leading cause of death from cancer in the state. 

2013 survivor model Caronah Cassell, 33, of Providence is sharing her story in an effort to remind young women of color that breast cancer is an illness that can affect them too. 

The daughter of Liberian immigrants, Cassell learned of her diagnosis just four days before her wedding. 

I was on my way to work, she remembered. It was a nice day when I got the call. 

Cancer diagnoses are not generally delivered over the phone but Cassell, busy with wedding plans and juggling work and childcare for her young son, missed the appointment at which she was supposed to receive the results of her biopsy. 

I actually skipped it, Cassell said, almost in disbelief. That was August 23 of last year. 

Cassell asked her doctor to stay on the phone with her while she drove to her mothers home. The doctor was throwing out all these medical terms and talking about surgery and I was in complete shock, said Cassell. I finally got to my mothers house. I left the car running and handed the phone to my sister. 

After receiving the diagnosis, Cassell turned her attention back to her wedding as Hurricane Irene was approaching New England. Nothing was going to stop this bride-to-benot breast cancer and definitely not some wind and rain. 

Cassell indicated that the decision to move forward with the wedding was also due to her supportive husband-to-be, who refused to call off plans. 

We got married at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, Cassell remembered. Because of the weather, we had to move everything inside. 

According to the American Cancer Society, African-American women have a higher incidence rate of breast cancer and are also more likely to be diagnosed with larger tumors in comparison to white women. The rates of developing and dying from the disease differ among ethnic groups, which may be due to breast screening rates and treatment. 

The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation works year-long to address breast health disparities that exist among vulnerable populations, including low-income, minority, and un- and underinsured individuals. The Hope Bus, a 38-foot pink mobile resource unit the Foundation uses to deliver free resources and information statewide, is made possible by support from The Rhode Island Foundation, Champlin Foundations, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Island, and Taco/The White Family Foundation. 

Cassell, who hopes her story will encourage women of color to take a proactive approach with their breast health by receiving mammograms and clinical breast exams, said that her experience has made her develop a deeper appreciation for life. 

Im very thankful that I am still here for my family and my son, so being a survivor means a lot to me. 

The 2013 Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life calendar will also be included in the November issue of Rhode Island Monthly. 

About Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life" 
Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life" was created in 2006 to promote breast cancer awareness and education and to honor people living with breast cancer during three inspirational days of education, support, and hope. Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life" takes place every year during Columbus Day weekend in downtown Providence. The weekend event is an opportunity for informative exhibits, free health screenings, arts, crafts, music, and lots of family fun. For more information, please visit www.flamesofhoperi.com. 

About the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation 
The Gloria Gemma Foundation was established in 2004 in loving memory of Gloria J. Gemma and to honor her courageous fight against breast cancer. The organizations mission is to raise breast cancer awareness; increase breast health education; enhance the quality of life for breast cancer patients, as well as their families and friends; and generate funding for local breast health programs. For more information, please call 401-861-HERO (4376) or visit www.gloriagemma.org. 

The Providence American