Published in the Steamboat Pilot, October, 2006, written by Allison Plean
Marilyn Ramunno supported her daughter through a mastectomy in a way most mothers could not.
“It was good for her to have me around,” Ramunno said. “It was good because I had just gone through it and could tell her how things went.”
Ramunno underwent a mastectomy months before her daughter had the same procedure. Breast cancer necessitated the operation for both women. Ramunno continues to battle a rare type of cancer called inflammatory breast cancer. It strikes only 1 to 3 percent of breast cancer patients, she said.
Her recovery process included radiation treatment and a PET scan. The Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project, which is hosting the fifth annual Bust of Steamboat fundraiser on Oct. 27, provided financial assistance that helped Ramunno with the cost of the commute to receive treatment.
“I have received several generous checks,” Ramunno said. “The money was a godsend, but I didn’t really expect it, so that was really nice.”
Ramunno said the support she received from her family, friends and medical staff helped her the most during recovery, and she is now comfortable talking about her prognosis.
“I decided to be pretty frank and talk to anybody who wants to know,” she said. “Maybe it’s an encouragement to others, and it is definitely helpful to my daughter.”
Bea Reyes also received assistance from the Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project to help pay for travel expenses for her breast cancer treatment and for babysitting services for her three children, who all are younger than five.
“The contributions from the YVBCAP have made a world of difference to me, mentally and emotionally,” Reyes said. “To know that people care helps me get through my cancer.”
Over the last year, the Breast Cancer Awareness Project has spent almost $20,000 for mammograms at Yampa Valley Medical Center and The Memorial Hospital in Craig. Some of that money was used to buy robes for the mammography room at YVMC and for individual patient expenses, including travel, hotels, gas money, health exams, wigs and prostheses.
“Our goal is to give this all back to the needs of the Yampa Valley,” said Jan Fritz, registered nurse and Breast Cancer Awareness Project committee member. “One of our goals is education about breast cancer. There will be information at the event about prevention and about what self responsibility we have.”
The Bust of Steamboat event is about having fun and reflecting on the positive components of breast cancer. There will be live jazz music, hors d’ oeuvres, wine and beer. There also will be 26 bejeweled and decorated bras that will be auctioned off, as well as a season ski pass.
One of the more interesting bra specimens this year is called, “Titillating,” and was made in honor of someone who lost their battle with breast cancer.
“It focuses on the breast and how people have seen the breast throughout history,” Fritz said. “And there’s one called ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Bust Friend,’ which shows the fancy and feminine side.”
Even a preschool-aged boy made a Bust of Steamboat bra this year. Another is three-dimensional and is made out of mosaic tiles. The bras generally auction for between $100 and $1,000.
“One last year went for over $2,000,” Fritz said. “My favorite part of the event is seeing the creativity. People think about it months and months ahead, and it is absolutely one of the most creative things that can be seen with an educational purpose.”
The Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project (YVCAP) was established in 2000 for women of Routt and Moffat counties to prevent or treat breast cancer, which means all the money raised stays in the community.