For the past 12 years Larry Lebatique, tennis pro at the Bass River Tennis Club in Beverly, Massachusetts, and club member Nancy Heffron have organized Bass River’s Ladies Night Out in support of the Electronic Space Systems Corporation (ESSCO)-MGH Breast Cancer Research Fund. The annual event, which includes a night of tennis, cocktails, refreshments and a raffle, supports studies aimed at developing new treatment options and improving quality of life and care for patients with breast cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital.
In 2011, Larry, who had lost his mother to breast cancer, was looking for a way to give back to his community, when a friend told him about ESSCO-MGH. Larry organized the first Bass River Ladies Night Out himself. His friend Nancy Heffron, a breast cancer survivor and Mass General patient, attended the event and recalls saying, “I’m so glad you’re doing this, but next year get me involved!” Nancy had many years of experience hosting fundraising events, which Larry lacked.
Since the formation of the partnership, Larry and Nancy have put their all into hosting the now-annual event, dedicating their time and energy to raising as much money as possible while providing their community with the chance to come together in support of breast cancer research.
“I really think this event is so successful because almost everyone has been affected by a breast cancer diagnosis in some way,” Nancy says. “The community really rallies behind this cause.”
Each year, Nancy finds new ways to make the event bigger and better, whether it’s connecting with a local florist who is able to donate fresh flowers or doubling the number of raffle prizes. “Each year, people get more and more generous,” she says.
Close to Home
For Nancy, fundraising in support of breast cancer research at Mass General is personal. As a patient of Mass General Cancer Center’s Beverly Moy, MD, MPH, Nancy has experienced firsthand the power of the lifesaving care provided at Mass General.
Years after her breast cancer was successfully treated, Nancy found herself back at the Mass General Cancer Center to have a 10-pound tumor removed from her uterus, an incredibly rare side effect of the medication tamoxifen, used to treat breast cancer.
“Within two weeks of the diagnosis, I had a full hysterectomy,” Nancy says. “Everyone I’ve interacted with at Mass General treated me with so much attention and care. They communicated every step of the way, so that in the face of such a scary diagnosis, I always knew what the next steps were and what was going on.” The care she received helped to make a terrifying experience a bit easier, and now, her fundraising work helps to ensure that other women have access to the same level of care she had, and even safer treatments.
Public funding isn’t always available for high-risk, high-reward research. In order to obtain National Institute of Health funding for their work, researchers must first prove the potential of their ideas through a long and intensive process. That’s where community fundraisers like Larry and Nancy come in. Their support empowers researchers in the Mass General Cancer Center to pursue their most creative ideas.
“This kind of philanthropic support is essential to allowing us to continue to conduct innovative, groundbreaking research.” says Kenneth Tanabe, MD, chief of the Division of Gastrointestinal and Oncologic Surgery and ESSCO – Slater Family Chair of Surgical Oncology at Mass General.
Larry and Nancy emphasize the gratitude they feel from their partners at Mass General.
“It really solidifies that we’re doing something worthwhile and impactful, that our fundraising is truly making a difference,” Larry says.
To learn more about how you can support breast cancer research at Mass General, please contact us.