Waterbury firefighters, community help breast cancer patients afford mammograms


For Waterbury Fire Chief David Martin, the fight against breast cancer is personal. His wife was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago.

“For us it was devastating,” Chief Martin said. “And with two young children, every fear you’ve ever had comes into play.”

Chief Martin says she survived her battle and she’s now doing well thanks to the treatment she was able to receive at St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury.

“Early detection is so incredibly important,” he said.

That’s why Thursday was such an important day for him. Nationally, it was National Mammogram Day. In Waterbury, Thursday was “Pink Out Day” — a day when city workers wore pink to raise Breast Cancer Awareness.

It was also a day the mayor used to salute efforts by city workers — including police officers and firefighters — school children, and many others in the community, to raise money for the St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation Breast Screening Fund.

Firefighters sold hundreds of specially-designed pink shirts, which added up to more than $5,000 being donated to the hospital’s foundation. Waterbury school children sold special pink wristbands. In all, the entire community effort raised $15,000 and counting for this program that helps uninsured or under-insured women get the breast cancer screenings they need.

Related Content: Breast surgeon undergoes first mammography to share importance of cancer screening

“That’s really generous of them,” said a woman named Heidi. She didn’t have health insurance when she was between jobs. The Pink Out effort helped her get the mammogram she needed. 

“It’s a wonderful program to raise money for,” she said. “I think for a lot of women it’s a big help.”

Doctors at St. Mary’s say they’re proud to be able to provide potentially life-saving screenings to about 150 women each year because of the goodwill of their hospital program and because of the goodwill of the Waterbury community, including the firefighters.

“We love you,” said Dr. Nicole Sookjan. “Thank you so much for helping so many women.”

Firefighters like Christian Lingard are in the business of saving lives. He says it’s gratifying knowing that he and his fellow firefighters can also help in this way.

“It means giving people a chance,” Lingard said.

“The biggest thing I would recommend is for women to have regular screenings like the foundation covers,” Chief Martin said. “That’s the whole premise behind the foundation’s breast fund is that all women have that available to them.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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