Three sisters from the Bronx are using their talents to aid fellow breast cancer survivors.
Margie, Sandra and Emma Sanchez, known collectively as the ‘Sanchez Sisters’, are all survivors of the disease which is the second leading cause of death in women after lung cancer.
They help support those going through what they previously experienced.
The sisters host the annual gala called the ‘Celebration of Life’, as a fundraiser for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to help raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.
Each year their gala features a unique theme such as senior prom night, a masquerade ball, a black and white night and a pink night, Emma said
This past July 25’s 10th Annual Celebration of Life was held at Scavello’s on the Island in City Island and featured ‘The Palladium Era’ as its theme. Over 200 guests attended the event.
“Life is to be celebrated in every aspect and just because you’re diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean your life is over,” said Sandra. “Cancer is a diagnosis, not a life sentence.”
The gala started in her backyard with over 100 people lending their support following her diagnosis.
In addition to their annual galas, the Sanchez Sisters work with the BOLD Buddies program at Albert Einstein Cancer Center/Montefiore Medical Center.
This free program features wellness workshops and support designed to empower, nurture and offer a connection for those affected by cancer.
Margie and Emma were two of the first BOLD Buddies trained for the program and served as inspiration for its inception.
“Our family was the inspiration for this program because of how our friends helped us out when we were diagnosed,” said Margie.
She added that by having a common connection with patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, Margie and Emma help others see the positive aspects of life and the formation of new friendships.
The sisters also volunteer with the American Cancer Society registering people for their annual Making Strides fundraising walk.
Margie explained she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in September 2002 and underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
“Your positivity is about 95 percent of your healing process,” explained Margie. “I had tremendous support from my friends and family and I believe that is very instrumental in the recovery process.”
Sandra was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in 2004 and also received treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
She is a patient advocate at Memorial Sloan for 37 years and focuses on “being a person who makes someone else look forward to tomorror.”
As a breast cancer survivor, Sandra said that she did not see her diagnosis as a negative experience.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” she said. “It’s not what any of us would have hoped for, but we helped one another during these difficult times.”
Emma was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in May 2006 and continued with her treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center into 2007.
“It’s amazing how cancer has bonded us together in such a positive way and we are helping to pay it forward to others going through similar situations,” she said.