In the midst of fighting cancer for a second time, Tara Loper Mansir, of Springs, is still thinking about others.
Mansir organized a luncheon at the on Sunday for , founded in memory of her mother, to award a scholarship and donate money to other local nonprofit organizations.
"We have to," she said, "If we can't take what we're given and help somebody with that then what's the point?"
Mansir and her sisters Teresa Loper Schurr and Tina Ozturk started the foundation after their mother, who spent her career in health care, died in 2010. The mission is to help those with medical needs.
In their first year, they raised $20,000.
At the luncheon, Mansir presented an $800 donation to the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary and $1,500 to Lucia's Room. Steven Kalimnios and his family, who own the Lake Club, sponsored the luncheon.
. , a domestic violence advocacy group based in East Hampton was awarded Charity of the Year, which receives 15 percent of the foundation's net proceeds, and Kristina Daniels, a Springs woman who attended nursing school at Suffolk County Community College received the $500 Book Scholarship. Both were available to charities and residents from Westhampton to Montauk.
Jeffrey Freidman, the executive director of The Retreat, said the money is much-needed due to a 35 percent increase in hotline calls from 2010. "The Retreat is all about hope," he said, "and I think that's what Nana Cares is all about, too."
The idea to start Nana Cares came when Mansir heard that funds were being raised for "Lucia's Room," a room dedicated to the memory of Lucia Terzi Bagan designed to make the final days of cancer patients more comfortable.
She was already a member of the Coalition for Woman’s Cancers at , from when it was the South Fork Breast Coalition. Her daughter Amber, at 15 years old, was diagnosed with breast cancer after a malignancy known as Phyllodes Tumor was discovered in 2006. She had surgery to remove the tumor and is now a healthy 22-year-old.
Mansir said the names on the scholarship applications were kept from the board members to be fair. She was so pleased, she said, to learn Daniels was awarded the $500. A friend of the family, Daniels went to school with Amber and helped organize a spaghetti fundraiser when Amber was diagnosed.
Daniels, who works at Dr. Dempsey's office, said, "Nana Kate was my nurse Dr. White's. She gave me my kindergarten shot."
Mansir, now 43 the mother of three other children — 16, 6 and 5 — said her second diagnosis only renewed her dedication to help others.
In 2008, just a year after having her youngest son, Mansir was diagnosed with stage-two cervical cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation were successful in that she was cancer-free.
Eight months ago, she learned the cancer had come back and had spread to her lymph nodes.
A patient at Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, Mansir has received three different types of treatment so far. This time, the side-effects have been debilitating. "I was blindsided," she said. The first time she had cancer, she felt relatively good and carried on with everyday life. This time, she's been quite sick. "I expected more from myself and more from my body."
Still, she feels she has the ideal situation to battle cancer. "We have excellent insurance, I have an amazing family and support system and friends that will do anything to help me," she said. "I can't imagine if I couldn't buy my medication. These are the people we want to help."
Those really in need are often the last to ask. "We really need to be aware of how many people in our community struggle to get the mental and medical help they need," she said. "When we see somebody that needs help, we need to step-up for them."
Mansir said she is looking forward to doing more in Nana Cares' second year. "We need to," she said, simply.