Meet our Champions

Patricia Kurowski

Fear ... Confusion ... Anxiety ... Uncertainty

These are just some of the feelings that go through someone’s head when they are told they have cancer. I definitely had those feelings when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in August of 2014.

After I heard the words “you have cancer” and that treatment would involve a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and additional reconstructive surgery, I embarked on a journey that I never thought I would take. That journey involved many twists, turns, and hills to climb.

Ironically, one of those “hills” was the road leading to Norwalk Hospital and the Whittingham Cancer Center. I live only 1.2 miles away from Norwalk Hospital. As I was not allowed to drive home after my chemo treatment, my boyfriend would pick me up on his way home from work. I decided that walking to my appointment each Monday would provide me with some exercise and quiet time, plus avoid the issue of having to leave a car at the hospital. What I was quick to realize was that the last portion of the walk involved me walking uphill to the Cancer Center entrance! Believe me, some days that ‘hill to climb’ felt like a mountain.

I was not prepared for this cancer journey or how I would feel, but then again who is? Whether the hills in the journey are

physical - like the multiple surgeries that just would not heal; or

emotional - I just don’t feel or look like myself anymore; or

real - like an actual hill to walk up.

I knew I would be able to get through it. I had a great support system of family and friends and, most importantly, a great boyfriend who was with me through it all. I mean seriously great. I would not have wanted anyone else by my side thru the journey through treatment and my continued life journey.

Having cancer helped me realize (maybe not right away, but eventually) that I want to go on many more journeys and adventures in my life, be with the ones I love and see so many new and interesting places. I never know what hills I will encounter on the journey of life so I am going to take life by the horns and live it to the fullest.

I will be forever grateful for the wonderful care, concern and love that I felt from Dr. Zelkowitz and all the wonderful nurses and volunteers at Whittingham. I always felt like a member of their family, no matter how busy they were. It may seem strange, but I was a little sad when I finished my chemo treatments because it meant that I was not going to see them every week. They truly helped me thru everything and are the main reason why I got involved in the run/walk. I knew I wanted to make sure that others who are going thru cancer treatments can have the same feeling of safety, support and love from everyone at the cancer center.

Please come and join us in supporting this wonderful event and helping to ensure that everyone who has to pass through the Whittingham Cancer Center gets to experience the same love, care and support.

 

Tony Menchaca

I was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in late 2013. I am alive and thriving today thanks, in large part, to the tremendous care I have received at Whittingham. My relationship with Whittingham began with my surgeon, Dr. James McClane, in December 2013 and continued into 2014 with my oncologist, Dr. Richard Frank, and the amazing staff in the infusion suite as I endured 12 rounds of chemo over a six month period. Having a positive attitude was key to making it thru treatments and the Whittingham staff played an important role in supporting me every step of the way.

I make it a point to visit with the staff involved in my treatments each time I come in for one of my regular checkups. I am a long-time runner and biker - exercise was another important aspect of my treatments and recovery. I am pleased to say that I have run in the last two Whittingham events and biked as part of the Whittingham Team in the CT Challenge for the past four years. Getting cancer is a life changing event, but having access to an outstanding treatment center like Whittingham can make all the difference for survivors like me.

 

Marissa Malarkey

Hello, my name is Marissa Malarkey.

My father, Bob Malarkey, passed away from thyroid cancer in December 2014. While he fought the disease for 6 years, he never let it control his life.

Dad had the most positive outlook on life and was a role model to everyone he touched. He was known for always keeping a joke or a prank in his back pocket for the perfect moment - life to him was always fun. The most important things to him were his family, friends, and spending time on the golf course or at a Yankee/Rangers game.

My father’s oncologist at the C. Anthony and Jean Whittingham Cancer Center was Dr. Nair, the most gentle, kind, and gifted doctor. His patience and caring manner always made us feel calmer and a bit more at ease as soon as he walked in the room. Dr. Nair, we cannot thank you enough for all you did for dad.

Norwalk Hospital holds a very special place in my family’s heart! My sister Rebecca and I were born at Norwalk Hospital and our mother has been one of its devoted RNs for the past 35 years.

Rebecca and I will be running the 5k portion of the Whittingham Cancer Center Walk & Sally's Run in remembrance of our father, Bob Malarkey and in celebration of our mother, Pattie Malarkey, who is a cancer survivor. “Team Onward,” comprised of Malarkey family members and friends, will be at Calf Pasture Beach to support the Whittingham Cancer Center, to show our appreciation for all of the caregivers who were there for our family and to extend our support of other families that are currently battling this horrible disease. We hope you will join us in supporting this incredible event as we know, first hand, the importance of great care, support, and compassion.

There will be a cure one day, until then Onward.

As my father always said - "It's a New Day!"

 

Lisa Parrett

Hello, my name is Lisa Parrett

I am 50 years old and I have breast cancer

My diagnosis came on January 5, 2017 and ever since, it has been one heck of a roller coaster ride. I have had two surgeries and I am currently receiving chemotherapy at the C. Anthony and Jean Whittingham Cancer Center.

A short time ago I was a single, hard working woman with a great job and lots of friends then, hello, here comes cancer! Since being diagnosed I have realized how important living my life really is. I have traveled to many places in this world, but cancer has taken me to a new place that I would never have imagined going to. It has made me realize who my friends are, and who I can count on, to help keep me moving forward to get this thing called cancer out of my way. It has made me scared and made me happy all at the same time. Since receiving treatment at the Whittingham Cancer Center, I really appreciate my health even more. It is a place where I see many people going through a similar journey; a place where I will be spending much more time; and most of all, a place where I know my life will be saved.

Thank you to the staff, doctors and nurses at Whittingham for treating me as a true champion!

It is because of your care and compassion that I will beat this, with one hand tied behind my back!

 

Kim Allison

Gardener. Graphic Designer. Dancer.

Survivor.

Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 after discovering a lump in her breast while shoveling snow. In consultation with Dr. Mandy Greenburg, Dr. David Passaretti and Dr. Richard Zelkowitz from Norwalk Hospital’s Whittingham Cancer Center, Kim decided to have a bilateral mastectomy.

According to Kim, she put all of her trust in her doctors. “They were my back-up, my support system.”

Everyone in the Whittingham Center is full of “hope, peace, and calmness,” says Kim, who now volunteers at the Center to help others in treatment. “This humbling experience has inspired me to pay it forward,” she says. “I share my story and commit to just being there for others. I’m very passionate about the cause.”

In addition to her resilient attitude, Kim credits her friends, neighbors, colleagues, family and two dogs, Pandora and Savannah, for the strength to fight her battle. She finds dancing, cooking and spending time in her “victory garden” to be therapeutic.

“You don’t often use luck and cancer in the same sentence,” says Kim, “But I am one lucky cancer survivor to have the outcomes I’ve had, and to be so very loved.”

 

Sue Gold

Athlete. Yogi. Optimist.

Survivor.

Sue Gold, mother of three and grandmother of one, was diagnosed with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008. When the cancer began to spread throughout her body in 2014, she met with Dr. Richard Frank at Norwalk Hospital’s Whittingham Cancer Center to start aggressive radiation treatment.

Sue says that even though her treatment was not easy, it went smoothly because “the staff at Whittingham is amazing and helpful.”

After her harrowing experience, Sue says she still finds reasons to feel blessed every day and uses her diagnosis for “strength and positivity.” Sue now lives an organic lifestyle, has run 15 marathons, and participates in triathlons. Through the support of family and friends, and by maintaining a positive mental attitude, Sue says she’s learned to “never stop living your life.”

 

Zarek and Ivannia

Sister Power.

“My sister began her battle with leukemia at the age of two. I watched her bravely endure every treatment with an inner strength not commonly found in someone so young. Little did I know her battle would become an example of strength for my own cancer fight at the age of 25.” Zarek Mena

“My childhood was marked by cancer. To everyone I was a ‘sick child.’ To my sister, I was her play buddy. Because of my illness, I was often too tired to play with her, but she always found a way to make me smile. Years later, it was my turn to return the favor when she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.” Ivannia Mena

According to Zarek and Ivannia, their shared love, hope and dreams have allowed them to support each other “in ways we never thought possible.” Their cancer journeys and survivorship have also strengthened their resolve to make a difference in the community: the sisters were members of the original Whittingham Cancer Center Walk Committee when it was created in 2004 and have participated in the event ever since.

“Our family has been through so much yet feels so very blessed,” say Zarek and Ivannia. “Please support the Whittingham Cancer Center Walk & Run, where all walk in hope for a cancer-free tomorrow, when the touch of cancer will never be felt again.”