BEACON FALLS — As the Valley goes pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, one woman hopes her personal experience will inspire others.
Marion Bradley, a Beacon Falls resident and pharmacist who co-owns the Beacon Falls Pharmacy with her husband, Robert, will be among those honored Thursday at the 14th Annual Women Making A Difference Luncheon from 12 to 1 p.m. at the Grassy Hill Lodge in Derby.
In addition to Bradley, Pamela Petro of Shelton, Carolyn Schuster of Derby, Kayleigh Apicerno of Seymour will also be honored. Special recognition awards will go to Nancy Cappello, founder of the non-profit organization Are You Dense, Inc., and state Sen. Joseph Crisco (D-17).
The luncheon, which is hosted by the Valley Women’s Health Initiative, is held to honor women’s contributions to the Naugatuck Valley and to raise money for the Valley Breast Care Fund at Griffin Hospital. The fund helps pay for screening mammograms or diagnostic testing for breast cancer for women who are underinsured or uninsured.
“The cause for the Valley Women’s Health Initiative, what they do to help underinsured or uninsured women get the health care that they need for breast exams and breast screening and breast wellness is, this year, very close to my heart,” Bradley said.
Bradley was diagnosed with breast cancer in January and uterine cancer in May. She has undergone radiation treatment, is on medication and is currently cancer free. A diagnosis she attributes to early detection of the cancer.
“I’m just overwhelmed by that because, for me, that’s how it all started. It was a tiny, tiny tumor that couldn’t be felt,” Bradley said. “When I had my annual mammogram the radiologist saw something he didn’t like and it went from there.”
Speaking on Monday, Bradley said the speech she wrote for the luncheon focuses on the importance of early detection as a way of saving lives, and she wants to make sure that message is heard loud and clear.
“Early detection is the best protection. I can’t stress that enough. That’s what I hope I can do going forward,” Bradley said.
While the cause of the luncheon is important to her, Bradley was chosen as an honoree due to all she has done for the community.
Bradley moved to Beacon Falls with Robert, a Beacon Falls native, in 1992. After 21 years of working as a pharmacist at CVS, Bradley opened Beacon Falls Pharmacy with her husband in 2005.
“It was time to fill a void in town. We were both at the time in our lives where we could see doing that,” Bradley said. “There’s pressures and stress just like in our old jobs, but it’s our own. Our neighbors and our friends are our customers. It’s just a different connection.”
In addition to running a business in town both Marion and Robert Bradley have a long history of helping their hometown through volunteerism. Both are members of St. Michael’s Church, where Marion Bradley is involved in the Lady’s Guild. She’s also a member of the Lioness Club, while Robert Bradley is a member of the Lions Club.
“Those two groups, individually and together, do many things for the community,” Bradley said.
In addition to being involved with town clubs, the Bradleys built their pharmacy with a water spigot on the outside so the various clubs, nonprofit organizations, and scout troops can hold car washes there. They also allow groups to hold bottle and can drives in their parking lot.
“We’re kind of the go-to place,” Bradley said of the popularity of the pharmacy for nonprofit fundraisers.
First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the Bradleys have made quite an impact on the town.
“The Bradley family has been a pillar of the community since they’ve been here and decided opening the pharmacy would be good for them and Beacon Falls. I can’t say emphatically enough say how important that local business is to the town. Bob and Marion make a great team. They put themselves out there for so many local organizations,” Bielik said. “I don’t know where we’d be without the two of them.”
Bradley said she continues to volunteer because it helps both the community and her.
“It makes you feel good if you can participate in something that helps somebody who’s in a bad way. Just filling prescriptions and helping somebody find a coupon online to help with their co-pay makes you feel good,” Bradley said. “If you can make somebody’s day a little bit easier in these times, it’s just makes you feel good. It’s a win-win situation. You help somebody out and it makes you feel good.”
Bradley said her volunteer work has always been a big part of who she is and has changed with the course of her life. When her children were at Laurel Ledge Elementary School she helped out with school functions.
Now Bradley wants to turn her attention to helping women get screened for breast cancer — something she was unsure about when she was first diagnosed.
“At first I wasn’t sure I wanted anyone to know when I first found out because I thought my customers are going to find out and think I’m so distraught that I’m going to make a mistake on their prescription. Which wasn’t the case at all because I never felt ill,” Bradley said. “Close friends who knew said, ‘in your line of work, in your position you need to tell people. You need to tell your story so people will go and get the appropriate exam so they can just check.’”
Now Bradley is comfortable sharing her story if it means other women will get their annual mammograms and have the chance of an early detection.
“I tell my story and it’s almost as if I’m talking about someone else because I never felt sick. … I took two weeks off in total for both cancers. I have to believe that, because it was found so early, that has something to do with that,” Bradley said.