This Means War Against Breast Cancer

Helping Trumbull County Survivors Wage War Against Breast Cancer

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'War' against breast cancer continues with basketball fundraiser

Posted on October 15, 2017 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (1)

Published in the Warren Tribune Chronicle on October 15, 2017.

SOUTHINGTON — It was another successful year for the This Means War Against Breast Cancer 3-on-3 basketball tournament as hundreds gathered Saturday at Chalker High School in Southington to raise money for Alexandria Baker. Baker, 27, a mother of two daughters …

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Warren breast cancer survivor to be fundraiser beneficiary

Posted on October 1, 2017 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Published in the Warren Tribune Chronicle on October 1, 2017.

WARREN — Alexandria Baker, a then-26-year-old mother of two, discovered the lump on her breast in March. “I was just waking up on a Saturday and I don’t know what possessed me to check my breast, but I knew the lump I found wasn’t normal because it was protruding,” said Baker ...

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Filling baskets

Posted on October 18, 2015 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Published in the Warren Tribune Chronicle on October 18, 2015.

SOUTHINGTON - Women waging war against breast cancer say the fight can be overwhelming.They say the feeling starts with the discovery of a lump and stays with a woman and her family through diagnosis, fights with insurance companies and treatment, all while holding together a household. ...

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Event symbolizes change, success

Posted on September 14, 2015 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Published in the Warren Tribune Chronicle on September 14, 2015.

CHAMPION - The Fifth Annual Cancer Survivor Day at Champion Presbyterian Church honored the fight against cancer Sunday.Survivors of all ages and their caregivers filled the church hall to celebrate and gain strength from the community to fight cancer. The event, organized by volunteers of the ...

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Co-founder Beth Ann Vanek is a Community Star!

Posted on February 15, 2015 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (3)

Letter to the editor: Fundraiser was a success

Posted on January 1, 2015 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

December 28, 2014

Tribune Chronicle



As the president of the Beth Ann Vanek This Means War Against Breast Cancer nonprofit organization, I have so many people to thank for making our fourth annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament and Chinese auction our most successful fundraiser so far.


We couldn't have done it without everyone who supported our mission to wage war against breast cancer spiritually, physically and financially this year through volunteer work, donations and sponsorships, or by participating in our basketball tournament and Chinese auction. I also really appreciate our major sponsors, Great Lakes Cheese and The Hope Center for Cancer Care, for their continued support.


Each year, This Means War's Board of Directors celebrates the accomplishments made with our fundraiser beneficiary. It always is a moment full of pride to deliver a substantial gift to someone in real need. This year was no different.


This year's honoree, Amy Gardner, is a beacon of light to others facing breast cancer or any difficulty in their lives because she has proven that by staying faithful that there are a lot of people that answer the call to help.


It is unbelievable to me that more than four years ago this annual event was just a thought placed into the heart of a few individuals and now we are beginning the planning process to impact our fifth breast cancer survivor!


Ken Moy Jr.



War on breast cancer enters fourth year

Posted on October 25, 2014 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

October 19, 2014

By CHRISTOPHER BOBBY - Staff reporter ([email protected]) , Tribune Chronicle


SOUTHINGTON - Amy Gardner said she didn't have the words to describe Saturday's turnout for the fourth annual ''This Means War Against Breast Cancer'' fundraiser, which this year was targeting her struggles with the disease.


''I'm just overwhelmed I guess. It's a huge blessing. With all that's going on here now, I'm eager to help out with everything next year,'' said the 34-year-old Howland woman who will continue her cancer treatments into March.


Gardner was selected as the fourth recipient of funds from the charity that carries the name of Beth Ann Vanek of Southington. Vanek, her family and their friends started the charity that centers on a community event held at the local high school.


It's in that setting that the group hosts a massive Chinese auction, bake sale and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament that pays winners who enter and supplies cancer patients with what has turned about to be at least $5,000 toward their medical bills. Saturday's event had a goal to raise $6,000, and that was surpassed, event organizers said.


Gardner was originally diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in January 2009 and beat the disease. She said she was approaching her five-year anniversary of being cancer-free when it reared its head again after spots were detected on her liver and lungs.


A longtime hairdresser in Howland, Gardner said the chemotherapy has forced her to greatly reduce her work schedule.


She credits St. Joseph Cancer Center with supplying her with the treatments she needs.


''God put me where I needed to be,'' she said.


Among the more than 300 people who browsed the Chinese auction and the members of 42 basketball teams, were Vanek and last year's beneficiary, Cyndi DeMoss of Champion, who says she's now been in remission for five years but still uses the money to help pay medical bills associated with treatment.


Debbie West of Bristol was a recipient of the charity in its second year.

Passing a test of faith

Posted on August 3, 2014 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Passing a test of faith

August 3, 2014

By COLIN HARRIS , Tribune Chronicle


HOWLAND - If the struggle against cancer is a test of faith, Howland resident Amy Gardner is passing with flying colors.


"With cancer, either you live and have faith, or you let it take over," Gardner said. "I refuse. I don't give life to it."


Gardner, 34, is locked in a rematch with advanced-stage breast cancer. Her struggle caught the attention of the Beth Ann Vanek This Means War Against Breast Cancer charity, a local organization named after Southington resident Beth Ann Vanek, who herself was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30.


Vanek is celebrating 3 1/2 years cancer-free, and the charity created to help support her emotionally and financially has been "paying it forward" to young women who are also battling the disease.


Now in its fourth year, the charity selected Gardner as the beneficiary of this year's This Means War 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament and Chinese Auction Fundraiser. To be held Oct. 18 at Southington High School, this year's event honors Gardner, who said she never expected to hear "the C word" for a second time.


Gardner was originally diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in January 2009 and beat the disease.


The Howland resident and Matthews High School graduate said she was approaching her five-year anniversary of being cancer-free when a cough brought her to the doctor.


"I couldn't breath and I was feeling suddenly short of breath, but my family doctor told me it was allergies," Gardner said. "I was given a steroid (to help with the allergies), and when I went back for (routine) blood work, it came back abnormal, and that's when we found that I had spots in my liver and lungs."


Gardner, who has been undergoing chemotherapy for nearly a full year and expects to continue treatment for another seven to eight months, said the cancer is receding. At her last exam, Gardner said her lungs were nearly completely clear of any cancerous spots, and she was down to just one spot in her liver.


But while Gardner's prognosis is looking up, cancer and the medication she takes to battle it have once again taken a toll.


A longtime hairdresser at Divas Designers of Hair and Nails in Howland, Gardner said the chemotherapy has forced her to greatly reduce her work schedule.


"I receive chemo every week, and it's really been kicking my butt," Gardner said. "I was surprised, honestly, because it wasn't (as difficult) physically the first time. My stamina is not great at all, and (the chemo) has affected my hands and feet, which I need to work with as a hair dresser."


Gardner recently received a bill for $17,000 to cover her medical expenses at St. Joseph Cancer Center, and she expects to lose her health insurance in October when her divorce becomes final.


That's where Vanek said the charity initially created to help her own struggle comes into the picture.


"This is our third year helping other people, and every dollar raised from us is going to help Amy," Vanek said.


"One of the biggest blessings (from the first year of the charity) was that we had extra money left over that we were able to put toward growing this foundation."


Vanek said last year's event saw nearly 400 people show up with the idea of helping women battling the disease. In total, Vanek said, the charity has raised nearly $17,000 to help battle breast cancer.


While a diagnosis of breast cancer is not easy for women of any age, Vanek said young women like Gardner and herself face unique issues.


"When I was diagnosed, I had a 20-month-old daughter," Vanek said. "I worked and my husband worked and we were not financially stable (as an older couple may be). Before I was diagnosed, we were saving money to build a house, so we had to put our dreams on hold."


Vanek said it was Gardner's similar life circumstances that first drew the charity to her story. But more importantly, Vanek noted it was Gardner's attitude and strong faith that made her the ideal candidate.


Faith is what Gardner said has helped her survive this second bout with breast cancer. A member of Believers Church, Gardner said that she fully believes God has a plan for her, and it is that plan which brought together charity and recipient.


"It was very overwhelming and a great honor to be chosen because it's very amazing what they do for people," Gardner said. "God has been great to me and I have faith. When you have faith, I believe you can make it through anything."


[email protected]

Community scores high in cancer fight

Posted on December 26, 2013 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Community scores high in cancer fight

December 8, 2013

Tribune Chronicle |


I am writing to say how proud I am to be a part of such a wonderful community.

I am the vice president and cofounder of the Beth Ann Vanek This Means War Against Breast Cancer, a breast cancer nonprofit organization that recently held its third annual This Means War 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament and Chinese Auction fundraiser to help breast cancer survivor Cyndi DeMoss pay off her medical expenses.

Our group never could have expected the amount of support we received. More than 200 people - many of whom had never met us or Cyndi - opened their hearts to us.

Thanks to the community's generosity, we were able to make Cyndi speechless when we gave her the fundraiser's proceeds.

We particularly would like to thank our major sponsors, Great Lakes Cheese and the Hope Center for Cancer Care, and our other seven contributing sponsors for their support, as well as the Southington school board, the Southington Athletic Booster Club, Southington Beta Club and our tireless volunteers, friends and family. We couldn't continue our fight against breast cancer without them.

- Beth Ann Vanek, Southington

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"There are no words to tell them how grateful I am"

Posted on October 21, 2013 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Benefit helps Champion woman

October 21, 2013


Staff reporter ([email protected]) ,

Tribune Chronicle

SOUTHINGTON - Cyndi DeMoss of Champion said she was speechless from all the support and love she received Saturday at the third annual Beth Ann Vanek This Means War Against Breast Cancer fundraiser.

The event held all day at Southington schools complex included three-on-three basketball, auction, raffle and bake sale, with money raise to help DeMoss with her medical costs as she battles terminal breast cancer.

"There are no words to tell them how grateful I am, for what they are doing," DeMoss said.

Article Photos Cyndi DeMoss of Champion, left, who is battling terminal breast cancer, left, and Beth Ann Vanek of Southington, who has also battled breast cancer, place raffle items on the tables at Saturday’s third annual This Means War Against Breast Cancer fundraiser held to raise money for DeMoss.

DeMoss said she was overwhelmed when they told her this year's event would be to help her. Vanek said on Sunday, the goal was to raise $5,000 for DeMoss, and the final tally came in around around $7,000.

"I am so grateful. It is a blessing," DeMoss said, noting there is costs for travel expenses and, while she is on her husband's insurance, it doesn't cover all the costs of her treatments.

"When you go from working full time to not working, it can get expensive," she said.

DeMoss, a nurse since 1997, had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and must undergo monthly treatments. She can no longer work due to her diagnosis. DeMoss said the cancer has spreads to her lymph nodes and liver.

She still receives bills for hundreds of dollars every year despite having Medicare and health coverage from a secondary insurance through her husband, who is a disabled veteran.

Southington native Kelli Young, one of the event coordinators, said this is the third year for the fundraiser, originally started in 2011 to help her sister, Beth Ann Vanek, who was battling breast cancer.

Vanek said she is recovering with no signs of the cancer returning.

Vanek said she like DeMoss also had insurance but it did not cover all the expenses such as traveling costs and bills.

Last year's event helped Debbie West of Bristol, who was also battling breast cancer.

Plans are to hold the event each year with Vanek and DeMoss planning to be there.

"I hope to continue to help others who have helped me,'' DeMoss said.

Vanek, who received help form the Hope Cancer Center in Howland, said the event included nine new sponsors and new events, such as a children's princess characters visit.

''This event helped me immensely,'' she said, noting family, friends and people from the public have been so supportive.

Vanek and her husband, Chuck, have two children.

At the fundraiser, people could sign a message on the Breast Cancer Tribute Wall for someone who is battling cancer.

The three-on -three basketball event included 33 teams with players from Trumbull and Mahoning counties. There was also a Chinese auction with 196 items.

Basketball Winners:

Thirty-three teams took part in the This Means War Against Breast Cancer 3-on-3 basketball fundraiser. Winners were:

Adult - White Mambas

9-12th grades - BLEEivers

7th and 8th grades - Rapid Fire

4th to 6th grades - Backyard Ballers

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