(WTNH) — One piece of clothing has been stitched with history.
“That jacket represents service to the community, charity, honor. I was the very proud recipient of the Knights of St. Patrick ‘Knight of the Year’ a few years ago” said Bernadette LaFrance of Guilford.
LaFrance dons the green jacket with pride, which is a symbol of the Irish community and women who paved the way.
“It was an incredible honor for me,” she noted “It really is a depiction of the women in the Irish community who have gone on to be leaders. While I was the first woman to receive the green jacket I was not the first woman to receive the honor.”
The jacket is not only stitched with history but also lined with the fighting Irish spirit.
“When I was very shockingly and unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer four years ago, I lost a lot of weight from the cancer and my green jacket hasn’t fit since,” she said.
When LaFrance was told she had head and neck cancer, her first thought was how was she going to tell her three sons.
“The one thing that I wanted to make sure of was that their life wasn’t going to change as little as possible,” LaFrance recalled.
That’s when the communities in which she serves, served her in a big way.
“Thanks to the incredible love and support that I got from all of our family and friends, the Irish community, and especially the Guilford community and the Guilford basketball community.”
LaFrance had to spend weeks at the Smilow Cancer Center and undergo three invasive surgeries in a matter of seven weeks.
“I’m used to being the one who is there for everybody else and doing the work so to have the whole community rally around especially not just me but my husband and mainly my three sons was the most wonderful gift,” she said.
Since that day of diagnosis in September of 2018, LaFrance has evolved and adapted to her new normal, much like this green jacket now being tailored to her post-cancer body.
With every pin, tuck, and stitch the fighting Irish spirit is never cut away because the person wearing this green jacket is a warrior.
“When that Irish spirit kicks in there’s nothing we can’t achieve,” she said.