By Jessica Easthope
1 in 8 – that’s the number of women who will be affected by breast cancer in their lifetime.
It’s not exactly a comforting statistic, but across the country, the American Cancer Society has millions of volunteers raising money every day to aid research, improve access to healthcare and offer life-changing support. One of the nation’s top donors is from right here in Brooklyn.
“You walk down a street in Brooklyn and the likelihood is that five or six women on your block are going to be impacted so it’s not numbers it’s people,” said Joe Gillette. “Cancer doesn’t discriminate.”
Twelve years ago, Gillette, an attorney and volunteer, had never even heard of Relay for Life – American Cancer Society’s biggest fundraiser. But now he’s headed toward a milestone, having raised almost half a million dollars for the organization.
“It’s a global movement of people helping each other out, everybody is affected by cancer,” Joe said.
As he likes to say, Joe puts the fun in fundraising, bringing a goofy flare to events that get people motivated. He’s proud of the number he can put on the money he’s raised but even more proud of what can’t be measured.
“You sit back and you see the relationships and the good that it does and you could never put a value on that,” he said, “a voice for someone, that’s the greatest reward of all.”
This month it’s all for breast cancer. The money Joe raises will go toward research into what causes breast cancer, developing new imaging technology and clinical trials.
“Use the colors and the months as a means to spread awareness but don’t cut off your volunteerism at the end of the month,” Joe said of the time dedicated to breast cancer.
More than 43,000 women will die from breast cancer this year. Joe knows their fears, their fight and their faith doesn’t end in October.