Anna Zabniak: Helping the Fight Against Cancer
By Ilija Sekulovski
What does the Shareing and Careing organization offer?
We offer support as far as drug coverage and transportation assistance goes, we have survivor meetings once a month for anyone that’s diagnosed, and we do a lot of outreach. The High School Outreach Program is my favorite program that was offer.
Can you tell us about that program?
Well, we go into various high schools across New York City – everywhere from Brooklyn to the Bronx, and we speak to them about breast cancer, and give them knowledge they didn’t have before.
One of the parts is the “Be a Friend to Your Mother Program,” and it teaches the children about the importance of self-exams, mammography, and everything else that comes along with preventing breast cancer.
After they learn all this – they’ll go home, and it opens up conversations. They’ll bring it up to a mother or aunt, who will bring it up to her friends, and so on, and it starts a cycle of awareness where sometimes there isn’t one. They spread the word on just how important early detection it.
Shareing and Careing puts together the annual Bikers Against Breast Cancer event – can you tell us about that?
It’s an event that’s been around for more than 20 years! Each year, we team up with the New York City Harley Owners Group for a 30+ mile ride, to raise awareness, support, and funds to go towards women with breast cancer.
What else does the Shareing and Careing organization offer those with cancer?
Well, we do more than just outreach and support – we really try and find a way to help people that have been diagnosed. Recently, we were working with an infant who is four months old, and has brain cancer. We linked them to somewhere they can get aid, but sometimes that’s not enough. The mother has been behind on rent, and so we helped out with that. We had another woman whose husband passed away, and she couldn’t afford to bury him, so we helped with the funeral costs.
Why did you want to get involved with Shareing and Careing?
I’ve worked with doctors and hospitals for a long time. I was working in a urologist’s office – Dr. Sandhaus – for over 15 years. Then, someone in my family was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I found out through someone else. She just wouldn’t tell me, and I couldn’t figure out why.
I went to Anna Krill, the Execute Director of Shareing and Careing, and she walked me through the steps of diagnosis, and I slowly learned why my family member wouldn’t tell me. Eventually, we talked about it, and after all my interest, Anna asked me to come work for Shareing and Careing.
After that, my mother was diagnosed with gastric cancer. My brother with lymphoma. It doesn’t get easier, but I’ve learned to understand it, and how to be there for them.
Have your experiences with cancer affected how you approach your job at Shareing and Careing?
Absolutely, yes. I see first hand what it’s like for someone to be diagnosed. I feel a personal tie to each person we help. I want to do everything I can – whether it’s get them medicine for reduced costs, help them schedule tests or surgery, whatever it is I try and find a way to walk them through it, and help them through it. I like helping people. I like when patients call me and tell me how they’re doing, or that they’re recovering, or even that they’re scared. I want to be there for them.