New leadership as Adelphi Breast Cancer Program celebrates its 40th anniversary

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The Adelphi Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program serves the needs of those coping with breast cancer. That was the mission when the program was founded at the School of Social Work and its purpose today — 40 years later.

Recognizing that there was a need for women to talk about their breast cancer, a professor at the School of Social Work first established a breast cancer support group. This effort, prompted by the women who received support in that group, led to the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program, serving women in Long Island and throughout the state.

Today that core vision—meeting unmet needs in the community—continues as two Spanish-speaking women take the helm of the program--Reyna Machado, previously the assistant director, is now executive director. Moving into the assistant director position is bilingual social worker Angela Papalia, who has been with the program for 13 years. The program has increased its ability to reach the large Spanish-speaking population in New York state and expand upon its current programs with community outreach, health education workshops, patient navigation, and Cafecito, the only professionally-led Spanish-language support group for breast cancer patients in Nassau County.

Plans are underway to expand the Sisters United in Health initiative, which provide women of color on Long Island with culturally-sensitive breast health information through community outreach, health and wellness events, health workshops, one-on-one education and referrals for free-or-low cost mammography screening. Volunteer Elba Contreras is committed to that outreach. Ms. Contreras, originally from Chile, attended a support group at the Adelphi program when she was diagnosed in 2000. “The group was so helpful because we talked to each other,” she says. Last year Ms. Contreras decided it was time for her to help, especially in the Spanish community. “I let people know how important mammograms are and how we can help them get one free or at low cost,” she says.

“A key component to the program’s role in the community and commitment to the University is the training of social work interns with two master of social work students and one bachelor of social work student assigned each year,” says social worker Erin Nau who is the program’s educational coordinator and a PhD candidate at Adelphi. The students receive clinical supervision while working with individuals, groups, organizations, and communities. Adelphi student interns co-facilitate support groups for breast cancer patients and also provide individual counseling. They graduate from the program with transferable skills for the field.

The Adelphi Breast Cancer Program is launching a fundraising campaign and special events to commemorate its 40th anniversary, hosting educational forums on sleep, finances and aqua Zumba on Adelphi’s campus as well as a fashion show at Lord and Taylor in Garden City. Program activities will be punctuated by the annual Celebration of Survivorship in October. Says Ms. Machado, “There is tremendous enthusiasm from the team, volunteers and longtime supporters of the program as we move into a new decade of leadership and support for the breast cancer community.”

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