June 4, 2010. That’s the day that things changed forever for the Moloney family of East Quogue.
That was when family matriarch, Ruth Moloney, who was 39 at the time, was told the four words that every women dreads to hear: “You have breast cancer.”
Shock and disbelief instantly took over as she tried to accept the fact that the lump she had found in her left breast was malignant. With a few more blood tests, Ms. Moloney learned that she has a genetic mutation, known as BRCA-1, which dramatically increased her chances for both breast and ovarian cancer.
“We were shocked and full of fear because I kept thinking, ‘I am too young to die,’” Ms. Moloney recalled this week. “I have two small kids, and I wanted to be here for them, so that was hard for me.”
Now, almost three years, a double mastectomy, a hysterectomy and a round of chemotherapy later, Ms. Moloney is happy to announce that she is once again cancer-free.
The experience left its mark on her and that is the main reason why she did not have to think twice when asked to participate in the inaugural Relay Recess event at the East Quogue Elementary School, where her two children—Jack, 9, and Harrison, 6—attend.
The event, which attracted dozens of people, raised more than $20,000 for the American Cancer Society, better than double what organizers had hoped to raise.
“I was overwhelmed, and I was nervous about making a speech, but I have learned that I have been through worse,” Ms. Moloney said. “When I got up there and started to read, I became very emotional, because you are opening up to everyone.
“But this is the kind of community where you can do that,” she continued. “Everybody is extremely supportive.”
A Relay Recess event is similar to the popular Relay for Life fundraisers, though the former involve elementary school children raising money for cancer research by agreeing to have a member of their team walk around a track for a specified time. Relay for Life events typically involve high school students and run overnight.
“It was the most heartwarming, important event I have ever been a part of,” East Quogue Principal Robert Long said this week. “It united the entire school community for a very important cause, and I am really proud to be associated with it.
“I am proud of the children,” he continued. “I really want to congratulate the students, teachers and the parents on pulling together.”
The event was organized by five teachers at the Central Avenue elementary school: Jackie Martin, Danielle Davin, Christine Capozzola, Jill Stevens and Jennifer Luckingham. The teachers, who have been planning the event for more than a year, have said they wanted to bring cancer awareness to the community and help generate money for the American Cancer Society. They are not yet certain if they want to make it an annual tradition.
“Today we play for a night but fight cancer for a lifetime,” said Allison Irving, a representative of the American Cancer Society, while helping to kick off the event.
To start the event, Ms. Moloney and other cancer survivors led supporters in the first lap around the track behind the school. From there, supporters, including Ms. Moloney’s husband, Kevin, walked the second lap. For the rest of the night, East Quogue community members and supporters could be seen circling the field in a show of support for cancer victims.
“It was very emotional and really lovely,” Ms. Moloney said. “Everyone was absolutely amazing and the feedback we heard over the days that followed—it was really amazing. It was a very special night.”