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The Adelphi NY Statewide 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 remains its purpose today—40 years later.

The Adelphi NY Statewide 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 remains its purpose today—40 years later.

Recognizing that there was a need for women to talk about their breast cancer, a breast cancer support group was established through the School of Social Work. 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 on Long Island and throughout the state.

Angela Papalia, assistant director (left), Reyna Machado, executive director.

Today that core vision—meeting unmet needs in the community—continues as two Spanish-speaking women take the helm. Reyna Machado, previously assistant director, is now executive director. Moving into the assistant director position is bilingual social worker Angela Papalia, MSW ’02, who has been with the program for 13 years.

Under their guidance, 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.

“There is tremendous enthusiasm from the team, volunteers and longtime supporters of the program as we move into a new decade of leadership with an expansion of support services for the breast cancer community,” said Machado.

Plans are underway to expand the Sisters United in Health initiative, which provides women of color on Long Island with culturally sensitive breast health information through community outreach, health and wellness events and workshops, one-to-one education, and referrals for free or low-cost mammography screenings.

Volunteer Elba Contreras is committed to that outreach. Contreras, originally from Chile, attended a program support group when she was diagnosed in 2000. Last year, Contreras decided it was time for her to help, especially in the Hispanic community. “I let people know how important mammograms are and how we can help them get one free or at low cost,” she said.

Training Tomorrow’s Social Workers

“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,” said social worker Erin Nau, 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 program is launching a fundraising campaign and special events to commemorate its 40th anniversary, punctuated by the annual Celebration of Survivorship in October.

Dianne-Pamela-headshot

Pamela Shaddock ’84 (left), with her sister Dianne Austin.

Because Hair Comes in All Textures

Blogging about natural hair and Black culture comes easily to Pamela Shaddock ’84. But these topics took a serious turn in 2015 when Shaddock’s older sister, Dianne Austin, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Austin searched for hair to replace what Shaddock said she calls her “beautiful Afro kinky-curly hair” lost due to chemotherapy. The two women found that there were few options for Afro-textured wigs and decided to do something about it.

They established Coils to Locs (coilstolocs.com), a supplier of Afro-textured synthetic wig styles for women with textured hair experiencing hair loss due to cancer treatment. In the fall of 2019 they launched a pilot program of ethnically inspired wigs at three major hospitals in Boston. In June 2020, Forbes profiled the company in “Coils To Locs: Cancer And A Life Pivot Creates A Startup.” Plans are underway to go national in the summer of 2020.

Shaddock currently lives in Los Angeles, where she is an actor with numerous television credits, such as NCIS, How to Get Away with Murder, Mad Men and For the People, plus film and theater. She loved campus life at Adelphi and the collaborative work ethic that was cultivated. “You’re really immersed in the [theater] program,” she said, “and develop a well-rounded view of what it means to be an artist.”

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