Health & Wellness

Paying It Forward

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From left: Samantha Benson, Mary Mayette (in Sammy and Nat PJs) and Lisa Mayette Credits: Samantha Benson
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Lisa Mayette is joined by her daughter Mary as she undergoes treatment for her cancer. Credits: Samantha Benson
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NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— Samantha Benson is no stranger to the devastating effects of cancer. She was only 5 years old when her mother was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 1989. After months of treatment that included radiation and therapy, her mother initially went into remission. That hope was quickly dashed when her mother relapsed about a year later. Instead of opting to continue with another round of grueling radiation and chemotherapy, Benson’s mother chose to undergo holistic treatment for her cancer. She ultimately succumbed to her illness in October 1991.

While she remembers little about her mother’s struggles during that time, Benson clearly recalls her father’s strength through it all and how he was able to keep things together for her and her younger sister Natalie as he raised the two as a single father.

Benson’s father still lives in the North Salem home on Titicus Road where they grew up, and lives next door to a couple, Lisa and Eric Mayette, who moved in five years ago.

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Last summer, Lisa Mayette went to the doctor to check out what she thought was a simple case of swollen glands. Instead, it turned out to be stage 3 Hodgkins lymphoma, a common cancer of the lymphatic system.

Benson’s father shared Lisa’s story with her, describing how Lisa, who had a young daughter, Mary, had to leave her job of 12 years to undergo treatment. Her illness was not only a tremendous physical strain, but quickly became a financial one as well.

Benson is the owner of the company Sammy and Nat, a line of luxury infant and children’s sleepwear created using Pima cotton from Peru, known for its super soft and long-wearing quality and is also hypo-allergenic.

In addition to her online store, her products are in about 60 stores nationwide and internationally.

Prior to creating her own company in 2014, Benson, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, worked at Armani and at Michael Kors as a global email marketing manager.

Once she was  introduced to Lisa and her family by her father, Benson said she was moved by her story, saying it “just didn’t seem fair that such a thing should happen to a young mother.”

At first, she started helping by providing Lisa with some of her company’s  high-end sleepwear for her young daughter, Mary.

“But I wanted to do more,” Benson said, “The more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized, I have this platform through Sammy and Nat, with 11,000 Instagram followers and our customer database, and that I could do more than just family and friends of theirs,” she said.

Benson then put together a marketing plan around it and decided to donate 20 percent of her web sales to the family.

“It’s starting to come to fruition. We’re partnering with mom bloggers and social media. Hopefully we’ll have some celebrity endorsements of our products, telling our story,” Benson explained.

She also has been publicizing a GoFundMe account for Lisa and her family, which went from $2,000 a couple of weeks ago, mostly from family and friends, to now having $6,000 as of press time.

“It’s really important for Lisa to get the treatments she needs, so that little Mary can grow up knowing her mommy and so that the family can move on and put this awful challenge behind them.”

For more information, and to find out how to donate, visit www.sammyandnat.com/marysmom.

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