It was while taking a walk with a friend one day when Kim Kerrigan-Czujko learned the terrible news. “Did you hear about Trisha?”
Then came the blow: Trisha Poole of Mattituck has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
That walk is leading up to a bigger one. “Trotting For Trisha,” a 5K fundraising walk organized by Ms. Kerrigan-Czujko to benefit the American Cancer Society, will be held in Mattituck Saturday. Participants plan to dress in pink for the walk, which is to start around 1 p.m. at the North Fork Roadhouse restaurant in Mattituck and finish there.
Ms. Kerrigan-Czujko, who lives in Mattituck, said 35 team members have raised $3,173 by Monday. She hopes for at least 30 walkers on Saturday. Ms. Poole, the wife of Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Gerry Poole, is expected to be among them.
During such a difficult time because of the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Poole, 45, is enduring a personal nightmare. She was diagnosed March 2 as having triple negative breast cancer stage 3 on her right side as well as a separate cancer on the left side, triple negative breast cancer stage 1.
“This has been and continues to be a difficult journey both physically and emotionally and every day is different,” she wrote in an email interview with The Suffolk Times. “I have good days and bad days but focus on the good ones and try to stay positive. I have a greater appreciation for life and overall gratitude for all that I have despite going through cancer treatments.
“Ultimately, my strength comes from my belief that God is helping me get through this. I pray a lot, do QiGong, meditate and go for acupuncture therapy. I have an amazing husband, family and friends and it’s their support that gives me strength as well as my faith.”
Ms. Poole said she has the support of a college friend, Keri Stromski, who herself is battling cancer, as well Lucia’s Angels, the North Fork Breast Health Coalition and a medical team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Commack.
“I just couldn’t imagine going through what she’s going through at this time, at any time, but especially [during] the pandemic,” said Ms. Kerrigan-Czujko.
The American Cancer Society calls itself the largest charitable funder of cancer research. Its traditional Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, usually held at Suffolk County Community College’s Riverhead campus in October, has been suspended because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Diane Nicholson of Laurel, an American Cancer Society senior event support manager, said Saturday’s walk will raise awareness about the importance of research and breast cancer screening. Ms. Nicholson said Ms. Poole, through her involvement in the walk, is “really helping to save lives by being the face of breast cancer right now in our community, making a difference.”
She added, “What this community is doing is making a definite difference in the fight against breast cancer.”
Ms. Kerrigan-Czujko has been gratified by the interest in Saturday’s walk. “I think it’s great,” she said. “I got a lot of feedback from the local community. I got a lot of feedback from my running friends and high school friends. I feel like everyone has been touched with cancer, breast cancer, unfortunately, through someone they know. I don’t think there’s anyone that doesn’t know someone that has experienced it. So, I feel like people just want to do something to help.”
Now Ms. Kerrigan-Czujko hopes Mother Nature will help. “It will be a nice afternoon,” she said. “I keep looking at the weather, keeping my fingers crossed. So far it looks good.”
Said Ms. Poole: “I feel blessed to live in such a caring community. It is this support that gives me strength to stay positive and get through this.”
Make a donation to the Trotting For Trisha Team in support of Trisha or someone in your life that has been affected by breast cancer.” www.makingstrideswalk.org/easternlongisland.