NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - After losing her mother following a long and courageous battle against breast cancer, one could understand if Krista Kasper wanted to grieve in private and move on with her life while cherishing her mother’s memory.
Instead of withdrawing, Ms. Kasper used this tragic episode in her life as inspiration to help others who have been affected by breast cancer while raising awareness and funds to fight the dreaded disease by forming the Mama Mare Breast Cancer Foundation (“Mama Mare”). One of the foundation’s first projects recently came to fruition with the dedication of a Healing and Education Center named in honor of Ms. Kasper’s mother, Mary Ellen Pernice, on Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s (RWJUH) 4-North Oncology Unit.
The room provides a serene area for cancer patients and their families, as well as a resource center complete with iPads donated by the Mama Mare, which give patients easy access to research and help them stay in touch with family and friends during their hospital stay, “smart” furniture that allows individuals to plug in laptops or mobile devices, and a boutique to provide wigs, turbans, prosthesis and other items needed by cancer patients as they undergo treatment.
Mama Mare was founded by Ms. Kasper, a former Monroe Township resident who now lives in Plainfield Township, PA, in 2010 in memory of Mary Ellen Pernice, who lost her battle to breast cancer in late 2009. Mama Mare is a fundraising organization dedicated to providing assistance to patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer and to advancing biomedical research in search of a cure conducted by Dr. David Vesley, M.D., a pioneer in cancer treatment studies and recipient of the America’s Career Achievement Medal in 2007, the Distinguished Scientist Award and the Richard A. Kern Award in 2008. Ms. Kasper started the Foundation as a means of carrying on Mary Ellen’s legacy, a dedication to helping and healing through active leadership.
“When someone you love is undergoing treatment for cancer, it can be a long and emotionally draining experience for everyone,” Ms. Kasper explained. “Treatment often involves lengthy hospital stays. By providing this room, we hope that we can ease the anxiety of patients and families and provide them with some comfort and peace to make their time here less stressful.”
David Fernandez, Vice President of Oncology Services at RWJUH, added, “We are extremely grateful for the Mama Mare Breast Cancer Foundation’s generous support. It takes a special person and organization to turn an emotionally devastating loss into a positive inspiration to help others. The kindness and caring that Mary Ellen showed so many others during her life live on with her children, through the Foundation that bears her name, and will continue to touch the lives of many individuals who receive treatment at our hospital.”
There are many opportunities to support The Mama Mare Breast Cancer Foundation throughout the year. The next is on March 24 when Mama Mare hosts its 2nd Annual De-FEET Breast Cancer 5K Run/Walk. The event begins at 9:30 a.m and starts and ends at Bar Anticipation (Bar A) in Lake Como, N.J. Registration is $25 per participant until March 12 and $30 per person from March 13-19 and on the day of the event. Teams of at least eight or more participants can register online for $20 per participant by March 19. Visit De-FEET Breast Cancer 5K at http://www.mamamare.org/5K.html
About Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) is a 965-bed academic medical center with campuses in New Brunswick and Somerville, NJ. Its Centers of Excellence include cardiovascular care from minimally invasive heart surgery to transplantation, cancer care, stroke care, neuroscience, joint replacement, and women’s and children’s care including The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (www.bmsch.org). As the flagship Cancer Hospital of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the principal teaching hospital of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, RWJUH is an innovative leader in advancing state-of-the-art care. A Level 1 Trauma Center and the only Pediatric Trauma Center in the state, RWJUH’s New Brunswick campus serves as a national resource in its ground-breaking approaches to emergency preparedness.
RWJUH has been ranked among the best hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report seven times and has been selected by the publication as a high performing hospital in numerous specialties. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital has been ranked among the best hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report for three consecutive years.
Both the New Brunswick and Somerset campuses have earned significant national recognition for clinical quality and patient safety, including the prestigious Magnet® Award for Nursing Excellence, an “A” patient safety rating from the Leapfrog Group and “Most Wired” designation by Hospitals and Health Networks Magazine. The Joint Commission and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services have designated the New Brunswick Campus as a Comprehensive Stroke Center and the Somerset Campus as a Primary Stroke Center.
The American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer has rated RWJUH New Brunswick among the nation’s best comprehensive cancer centers and designated the Steeplechase Cancer Center at RWJ Somerset as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center. The Joint Surgery Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset has earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for total knee and total hip replacement surgery.