YORKTOWN, N.Y. – As someone who likes to get involved locally and lend her time to good causes, Yorktown’s Jacqueline Baker joined the fundraising walk last year for Support Connection.
The non-profit organization, founded in 1996, helps those affected by breast and ovarian cancer, nationwide, by providing emotional, social and educational support to women, their families and friends. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes, while roughly one in 78 will receive a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
Baker, who retired after 35 years of teaching elementary school and special education in lower Westchester and New York City, moved to Yorktown in 2017. Having previously participated in the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Walk as a member of several teacher’s unions, she felt compelled to continue her support of the cause in her new hometown.
“When I came to Yorktown, I thought the Support Connection Walk sounded interesting because besides breast cancer, it has ovarian cancer, too, and you really don’t see that,” she said.
Then, to her surprise, this past February, the 61-year-old was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer—and although she was naturally feeling devastated, she said she was also overwhelmed with the kindness and love that came her way. “I received the most wonderful support, love and many prayers from so many who know me; I was never alone in this journey,” she said.
Facing surgery and an 18-week course of chemotherapy (all during the pandemic), Baker turned to Support Connection’s services for encouragement and assistance. She participated in meditations, had phone calls with a counselor, joined monthly telephone groups with other survivors, and felt amazed that she had “not only walked for Support Connection,” but now became a patient; and I am happy they are here to support me, right in Yorktown,” she added.
Thankfully, the mother of two grown sons (and grandmother of a young girl) responded extremely well to cancer treatments and hopes to soon get back to the many activities in which she is involved.
Baker listed the many ways she tries to make a difference: volunteering at a hospital, participating with several education union organizations and their committees—in addition to being a member of the NAACP, the Women’s Black Political Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and other political committees. On top of that, she is starting a non-profit toward her advocacy work for those faced with Sickle Cell Disease.
As for this year’s “Support-A-Walk,” which is taking place on Oct. 4 and aims to raise funds for services and wellness programs at Support Connection, the pandemic has forced the organization to change the format for the event. In place of walking together en masse, they are asking individuals or teams to choose their own routes (even on a treadmill) as well to complete any distance of their choice—in order to raise funds online, or by cash or check.
Baker plans to participate with friends and family as they join her “Jacki-O” team walk, and even after a second surgery, feels ready for the challenge as she continues on the road to recovery.
“I hope to raise funds so more clinical research can be implemented and eventually find a cure,” she said. “My goal is to help raise awareness about ovarian cancer in its early stages, have clear options for treatments, and see more women live healthy cancer-free lives—I hope to encourage others to stay positive, seek counseling, and live life the best they can.”