October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One in eight women is diagnosed nationwide with breast cancer yearly, and one in five is diagnosed with breast cancer on Long Island. Luckily the survival rate with this type of cancer is quite high, but there are still those whose lives have been lost to this terrible disease.
During the month of October, many restaurants, food establishments and wineries are doing their share to promote both awareness and support for breast cancer and breast cancer survivors. Most people have been affected by breast cancer in some way—either from having it, or knowing someone who has or has had it.
South Bay Seafood, a wholesale seafood supplier with headquarters on the South Shore of Long Island, has been in business for over forty years and receives and ships seafood from New York City, Long Island and Miami. For South Bay Seafood owner Robert Sudano and son Stephen, the fight against breast cancer is not limited just to the month of October. They support the reputable Breast Cancer Research Foundation year round through their Pink Ribbon Oyster program.
In the fall of 2015, thirty-year East End commercial fisherman Ed Warner told his good friend Robert Sudano that his wife Kathy had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I’ve known the Warners for a long time,” said Robert Sudano, “and when Kathy was diagnosed I figured I would do something good. We started talking about it and came up with the idea of the oyster.”
Robert and son Stephen began by putting up a video on their website featuring Kathy talking about her journey with breast cancer. The short video immediately takes the viewer in, and puts a face and a voice to one woman’s story. People can then make a secure donation directly through the newly created Pink Ribbon Oyster website.
“We donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation,” said Robert. “My son did a lot of research. We wanted the money to go to a good cause, and he found out that 99% of money raised for the Foundation goes to breast cancer research.”
Besides personal donations, 25% of every Pink Ribbon Oyster sold is donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. As their website states, South Bay harvests Pink Ribbon Oysters with love from the Long Island Sound. Every oyster is uniformly cleaned and graded by hand to share consistent qualities—petite, plump, and without cracks, which ensures natural moisture and superlative fridge life.
Every oyster which is shipped to distributors is packaged with a pink rubber band. Inside the box there is a note about Pink Ribbon Oysters, as well as several pink breast cancer awareness ribbons which serve as a garnish when the oysters are displayed.
Kathy Warner, a Hampton Bays resident, was very happy with Robert’s idea of selling Pink Ribbon Oysters, and she was willing to share her story in the video made by Stephen Sudano. After a routine mammography in September of 2015, Kathy Warner at age fifty-six discovered that not only did she have breast cancer, but that she was HER 2 positive and estrogen positive—a very aggressive form of breast cancer. It resulted in a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstruction. There was no history of breast cancer in her family.
Today Kathy feels wonderful, and acts as a spokesperson for Pink Ribbon Oyster. She is grateful for any time she can get with her family and friends.
“Cancer changes you,” said Kathy. “I’d rather drop everything and spend time with somebody instead of doing the bills, doing laundry or cleaning the house. I value my time with people and every chance I get to do things with them.”
South Bay Seafood has raised close to $8000 dollars through their Pink Ribbon Oyster program, and are hoping to reach over $10,000 by the end of October.
“People like the idea of what we’re doing and they’re willing to support it,” said Robert. “It’s all good.”
People interested in donating to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation can donate through a secure page on the Pink Ribbon Oyster website at http://pinkribbonoysters.com/