by Jackie Kelley
It’s just about time to usher in a new month of the year, a month characterized by pink ribbons, strong women, and, well, ta-tas. That’s right, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Woburn's Tanner Ta-Ta Foundation is more than ready to kick off their October festivities. For those of you that don’t know, The Tanner Ta-Ta Foundation was founded in 2009 by Woburn residents Erin Ficociello and Michelle Amari. It is a non-profit organization that provides women diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as their families, emotional support during and after their treatment.
The Tanner Ta-Tas support women in a number of ways. For starters, they prepare care baskets and cook meals for women going through treatment.
“My favorite thing that the Ta-Tas do is the cooking. The reason it’s my favorite is because it’s the most direct thing we can do for a woman going through treatment. When you go through treatment, you lose so much and it’s nice to help them out by providing meals for them and their families,” said co-founder Ficociello. “I especially appreciate it having gone through breast cancer myself and having known during that time that my family and I were able to have meals that someone else put the time into making for us.”
Aside from cooking delicious entrees and assembling baskets, the Tanner Ta-Ta Foundation is known for its dedication to breast cancer research. Not only do they raise money to benefit cancer research nationwide by annually sponsoring walkers in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Boston and donating to the American Cancer Society, but they also sponsor local research right here in Woburn. One of their missions is to investigate the increasing number of young women diagnosed with breast cancer in Woburn by working alongside the City of Woburn and the Massachusetts Department of Health.
The Tanner Ta-Tas will kick off their month-long activities by first turning Woburn pink. On October 1 at 7pm, The Tanner Ta-Ta Foundation will hold their third annual lighting of the common where the entire center is engulfed by pink lights, flags, and bows. A celebration will follow at the Brickyard Restaurant. Active member of The Tanner Ta-Ta Foundation, Lynne Welch, describes the Common Lighting as her favorite event.
“I like the Common Lighting because a lot of people in the community attend and the mayor and the DPW become involved. It really shows a true partnership and promotes a true sense of community. Whenever I drive through, it just makes me think about all the girls who have gone through treatment,” said Welch.
Next on the calendar is the Tanner Ta-Ta Toll Booth which will be held on October 6 from 9am-12pm. This is when the Ta-Tas hit the streets and cover all major intersections in Woburn to raise money for their organization. Don’t be surprised if some lovely ladies (or even some charming men) stroll up to your window as you’re stopped at a red light. Talk to them about their goals and make a donation to support their worthy cause.
The following weekend is the 2nd annual “Tossin for Ta-Tas” Cornhole Tournament which will be held on October 13 at the Sons of Italy in Woburn at 1pm. This event features cash prizes of $1000, $500, and $250 for the first, second, and third prize winners respectively. If that’s not enough for you, there are also door prizes, a 50/50 raffle and several other raffles to be won. What better way to spend your Saturday than playing a fun game of cornhole while supporting a great cause?
Sign up today to reserve your spot in a competition that is truly a great social event in Woburn. Jamie Kelley, an active member of The Tanner Ta-Ta Foundation, who is involved in planning the tournament, describes it as one of her favorite events because it includes a different group of people than their typical events.
“I like the cornhole tournament because this event is a way to give back and throw a bit of a party for the men that are affected by this disease,” said Kelley.
On October 21, the Tanner Ta-Tas will be holding their “Breakfast of Champions” for both survivors and women currently going through breast cancer. This breakfast gives them the opportunity to come together and educate one another about the disease.
“We have a network of women to support each other that have gone through similar experiences and can learn from one another. When we get word of a new woman diagnosed, we have survivors that have dealt with similar diagnoses and treatments that can help through the process,” said Ficociello.
By providing women with a strong support system, The Tanner Ta-Ta Foundation fulfills one of its most important and cherished goals.
“…being able to give back and let these women know that they’re not alone,” said co-founder Amari of not only the most important mission of The Tanner Ta-Ta Foundation, but also her favorite.
Their effort to accomplish this goal seems to be working according to breast cancer survivor Sherry Poole who was so thankful for The Tanner Ta-Ta’s support and knowledge.
“When I was diagnosed, I felt completely alone because I didn’t know anyone else with breast cancer, especially at my age. I was convinced that because it was stage three that I was going to die. The Ta-Tas rallied around me and educated me. I met women that were also stage three and realized that I was going to be okay,” said Poole.
Fellow survivor Suzanne Clurman is also grateful of The Tanner Ta-Tas’ unwavering support and thoughtful gifts.
“If it wasn’t for the Tanner Ta-Tas, I don’t know where I’d be. The support that was most important was the pick-me-ups. Every time I’m down, they’re always there for me. I’ve had a lot of follow-up problems since my cancer and it’s so nice to receive pick-me-ups like flowers when I’m having a bad day. They are truly a great group of women and I am glad to be a part of it,” said Clurman.
She wasn’t the only one that appreciated their small tokens of love, though.
“They made me an amazing, beautiful quilt with a biblical quote on it that I still take out to comfort me when I’m stressed,” said Poole, also appreciative of their small ways of letting her know they were thinking of her.
Another great thing about The Tanner Ta-Ta Foundation is what they do for the family members of those diagnosed with breast cancer.
High school student Shannon Emmett respects the Tanner Ta-Tas for everything they did for her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and is now in the clear.
“I think the Tanner Ta-Tas’ work is most important because of the generous support they offer to patients and their families. Knowing that a difficult time could be made easier for another daughter like me means the world to me,” said Emmett.
A tremendous organization like The Tanner Ta-Ta Foundation who does everything they can for the community deserves all the support they can get. If you’re interested in helping the Tanner Ta-Tas, make it your own mission to attend their October events, volunteer your time, or donate to their great cause. For more information, visit www.tannertatas.org, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @TannerTaTas.