The love of a good woman is a legendary force. The palpable love that filled the Ellen Hermanson Foundation’s “Evening of Enchantment” at the Topping Rose House built a state of the art hospital center and support system. These good women have carried countless in the East End through breast cancer and saved countless others from it, via early detection.
Jean Shafiroff chaired. Jodi Wasserman was honored. Wasserman’s own battle with breast cancer inspired her to support others’. She sits on the boards of Lucia’s Angels and The Coalition for Women’s Cancer and gives hands on loving care, including end of life transitioning, under the guidance of Susie Roden, the Foundation’s patient navigator and president of the Coalition for Women’s Cancers (both at Southampton Hospital).
This behemoth breast health support system all started with an event cobbled together in Julie Ratner’s kitchen table with Emily Levin – Ellen’s Run – to continue the work of their third sister, Ellen Hermanson. Ellen’s last years battling breast cancer were filled advocating for others. Now it was up to them. “We were very bold to use the word annual, because who knew at the time that it would become so,” Julie told the room. Sunday, August 19 will be the 23rd Annual Ellen’s Run.
The sisters’ dream ultimately created Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s Ellen Hermanson Breast Center, a state of the art facility, “where no one is turned away because of a lack of health insurance and no one is asked their immigration status, and where the technology and doctors are unsurpassed anywhere,” Julie told the room. The Foundation also provides psychosocial support through Ellen’s Well, a program of group and individual counseling, overseen by Edyle O’Brien, LCSW, an oncolcogial social worker with more than 20 years of experience, and the same beatific smile as Julie.
“We live in a place, Long Island, that has the highest record of breast cancer in the United States,” Gala Chair Jean Shafiroff told the room. “And Julie has made it her business to help tackle that problem with her sister in honor of all of the women and men who suffer from this terrible disease. When you think of the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, you think of Julie Ratner.”
This evening, Julie was thinking of and thanking: Samantha Voutsinas and her team at Topping Rose, the “wonderful” volunteers, event coordinator Sara Blue, Anne Gomberg the foundation’s executive director; the Board of The Ellen Hermanson Foundation: Dr. Constance Chen, Emily Levin, Ellen’s husband, Hugo Moreno, Amanda Polk, Dee Rivera, and Cathy Tweedy; Sponsors, Jean and Martin Shafiroff, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, Fowlers Garden Center, Simple Vodka, Hamptons.com and Hamptons Jewelry Show, the latest brainchild of Impresario and art collector Rick Friedman, which will donate the proceeds of opening night to the Foundation.
It has been more than 23 years since they lost Hermanson, but thanks to her sisters, her name will be forever associated with breast health in the Hamptons. “Ellen was my sister, my soul-mate, my mentor, my confident, my life coach, my hero and so much more” Julie Ratner told the room. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. The Foundation is my homage to Ellen, a way to keep her memory alive and honor the work that she did to educate, and bring comfort and support to women with breast cancer and give meaning to her life beyond the short time she spent with us. In fact, the mission statement for the Foundation, “to ensure access to state-of-the-art breast health care and enable people affected by cancer’ is inspired by Ellen.”
For more information about the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, visit www.ellenhermanson.org.