Glo­ria Gemma Foun­da­tion be­gins ‘Flames of Hope’ events

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN BIS­SON­NETTE jbis­son­nette@paw­tuck­et­times.com

PROV­I­DENCE – As a way to cel­e­brate the start of the 12th an­nual Flames of Hope week­end around the Ocean State, the pres­i­dent of the Glo­ria Gemma Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion on Thurs­day an­nounced the foun­da­tion’s plans to see some­thing other than hope­ful flames ris­ing in Rhode Is­land: a holis­tic care cen­ter.

Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent Joe Gemma in­vited guests at the State House on Thurs­day morn­ing to share in an ex­cit­ing dream. He said the vi­sion for the holis­tic cen­ter would seek to im­prove the lives of can­cer sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies and build a stronger can­cer sur­vivor com­mu­nity by ad­dress­ing men­tal, phys­i­cal, and spir­i­tual health si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

While the cen­ter is just a dream now, Gemma out­lined plans that in­clude com­fort­able and wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ments for all peo­ple with all can­cers, friendly and wel­com­ing en­try­ways, re­lax­ing and safe sup­ports, a sleek and mod­ern kitchen, and calm and re­flec­tive in­te­rior gar­den. He’s hope­ful that by early 2018, they’ll be able to an­nounce a lo­ca­tion in Rhode Is­land where they will be able to give life to the Foun­da­tion’s dream.

He said his vi­sion re­veals “a space for the en­tire sur­vival com­mu­nity to re­ceive nec­es­sary pro­grams and support ser­vices to heal minds, bod­ies, and spir­its – a space that ad­dresses the needs of sur­vivors.” Gemma added that the Foun­da­tion has al­ways been mind­ful that in or­der to help peo­ple nav­i­gate their

can­cer jour­neys, they need to treat the whole per­son be­yond the disease.

In re­defin­ing the scope of holis­tic care, he added, “we hope to be able to cre­ate an em­brac­ing space that will en­cour­age heal­ing of an en­tire per­son.”

Gemma was on hand along­side other foun­da­tion mem­bers, Rhode Is­land De­part­ment of Health staff, and can­cer sur­vivors and fam­i­lies who’ve dealt with the dam­ag­ing blows of breast can­cer, to kick off the “Flames of Hope: A Cel­e­bra­tion of Life” week­end. He said that ev­ery year, they gather to cel­e­brate the many lives touched by can­cer, say­ing that each story is one filled with per­se­ver­ance, heartache, tur­moil, worry, or vic­tory.

“All here have sto­ries of how can­cer has touched our lives,” he said. “All of these sto­ries are equally im­por­tant, all com­bined make up a tapestry on the ef­fects of can­cer within our com­mu­nity.”

“With each story, we at the Foun­da­tion feel the need to of­fer more pro­grams and ser­vices,” Gemma added, not­ing that 15.5 mil­lion can­cer sur­vivors are liv­ing in the United States. “Un­for­tu­nately, our com­mu­nity of can­cer sur­vivors con­tin­ues to grow. To re­spond, Glo­ria Gemma will con­tinue to ex­pand open arms to sur­vivors and fam­i­lies through many pro­grams we of­fer.”

The Flames of Hope week­end be­gins on Satur­day. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Omni Prov­i­dence Ho­tel will be The Pass­port to Sur­vivor­ship Expo, a free healthy liv­ing event fea­tur­ing 40 ven­dors, guest speak­ers, in­ter­ac­tive pre­sen­ta­tions, a spa lounge of­fer­ing com­pli­men­tary ser­vices, free flu shots, and prizes.

At 3 p.m., Prov­i­dence’s Sta­tion Park will be re­named Cel­e­bra­tion Vil­lage for an evening of re­mem­brance, re­flec­tion, mu­sic, food, and ac­tiv­i­ties. At sun­down, thou­sands will watch the Il­lu­mi­na­tion of Life Cer­e­mony at the State House steps as the State Bal­let of Rhode Is­land per­forms. Fol­low­ing that, 150 torch­bear­ers will pro­ceed to the Prov­i­dence River Basin to light the sea­son’s largest WaterFire.

Sun­day morn­ing will yet again fea­ture lo­cal may­ors and city lead­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing in the “Pink Pump Palooza,” a 50-yard run through down­town Prov­i­dence while wear­ing fes­tively-dec­o­rated high­heeled shoes. This 10 a.m. race is to ben­e­fit the Foun­da­tion.

Paw­tucket Mayor Don­ald R. Gre­bien has in­vited other Rhode Is­land may­ors to par­tic­i­pate in the sec­ond-an­nual dash and join­ing him are ex­pected to be Cum­ber­land Mayor Wil­liam Mur­ray and Cen­tral Falls Mayor James A. Diossa.

“What a plea­sure to be able to par­tic­i­pate again this year in the Pink Pump Palooza,” Mur­ray said. “This event sup­ports the Glo­ria Gemma Foun­da­tion and their work. I chal­lenge all Rhode Is­land govern­ment of­fi­cials to join me and Mayor Gre­bien on Oct. 1 at 10 a.m. in Prov­i­dence with your pink on.”

“The race has grown over the years and par­tic­i­pants re­ally get their pink on, wear­ing fes­tive cos­tumes – all to raise money for a great cause,” Foun­da­tion Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Maria Gemma said.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Anne Prosser, a can­cer sur­vivor, un­veils one of five pan­els de­pict­ing artist ren­der­ings of a new Glo­ria Gemma Breast Can­cer Re­source Foun­da­tion fa­cil­ity to be built as part of the foun­da­tion’s fu­ture jour­ney, an­nounced Flames of Hope cel­e­bra­tion at the State­house Fri­day morn­ing.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Brenda DiPalo, RI De­part­ment of Health, left, speaks af­ter be­ing pre­sented with a $3,880 check from the Glo­ria Gemma Foun­da­tion, the pro­ceeds from the RI De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion’s Pink Rib­bon Li­cense Plate to ben­e­fit the Health De­part­ment’s Women’s Can­cer Screen­ing Pro­gram dur­ing the Glo­ria Gemma Foun­da­tion’s Kick-Off Tea for the an­nual Flames of Hope Cel­e­bra­tion of Life Week­end at the RI State­house Thurs­day morn­ing. Join­ing her, from left, is pre­sen­ters Joseph Gemma, Pres­i­dent, Glo­ria Gemma Breast Can­cer Re­search Foun­da­tion, Joelle Fournier, breast can­cer sur­vivor, and Maria Gemma, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Glo­ria Gemma Breast Can­cer Re­search Foun­da­tion.

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