The "Real Men Wear Pink" cocktail party in Amagansett on Saturday will raise funds for local breast cancer organizations, while also paying tribute to one local woman who lost her battle with breast cancer.
Saturday also marks the one year anniversary since Shelter Island resident Teresa Montant died of metastatic triple negative breast cancer. She was 54.
Her legacy lives on in legislation that she pushed for before her death, and her husband helped pass this year, designed to help improve breast cancer detection and prevention by requiring mammography services to inform patients if dense breast tissue is found during an exam.
Townsend Montant said he was in awe when a longtime friend, Connie Thomas, of East Hampton, told him a benefit she and other local women were organizing would be in honor of his late wife, who instituted the "Real Men Wear Pink" campaign on Shelter Island. The concept is that men wear pink to remind their wives, sisters, daughters and loved ones that breast health is important.
"It just goes to show you she’s still working," Montant said, referring to his wife. "She worked really hard to educate people and it’s still working."
Barbara Borsack, East Hampton Village's Deputy Mayor and a breast cancer survivor, said she and her friend Ann Cantwell wanted to do something to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the immediate area, since most of the other benefits are in Southampton.
They put a call out for volunteers about six months ago, and gained a committee of about a dozen ladies from East Hampton, through Facebook mainly, and the group started brainstorming.
Two of the ladies lost their mother to breast cancer, most know someone who has battled the disease, and some of the them just wanted to give their time to the cause. "Everybody knows somebody who's had cancer," said Sandra Vorpahl.
Long Island has a higher incidence of breast cancer than the national average, particularly in East Hampton.
The Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Southampton Hospital diagnosed 156 cases of breast cancer from June 2011 through October 2012 — 14 percent of which were residents of East Hampton and 10 percent were from Southampton.
The ladies have gathered dozens of donations for the raffles and silent auction. There's even a special iPad raffle. Their goal is to raise at least $2,000 for each of the three charities.
The proceeds go toward Lucia’s Angels, which provides services from babysitting to help with heating bills, for women on the East End with late-stage breast, ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancer; The Coalition for Women’s Cancers at Southampton Hospital, an all-volunteer support network for women affected by breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers, with its focus is on early detection and empowerment; and The Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Southampton Hospital, which offers breast health services.
The idea came naturally to make this first benefit, which they hope will become an annual one, in honor of Montant. Several years ago, Thomas, a mutual friend of Borsack's and Teresa Montant, had connected the two as a source of support during treatment. "She was really strong," Borsack recalls.
Holding back tears during a committee meeting on Tuesday night, Thomas remembered how Teresa was in turn a help to her husband, during his health crisis — he and Teresa's husband, an East Hampton High School graduate, are longtime friends. "She really made a difference," Thomas said.
The Real Men Wear Pink cocktail party will be held at South Fork Country Club in Amagansett on Oct. 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is $100.