Cancer Support Group Takes Flight


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Diane Braschi, Holly Denton and Joni Jasterzbski

Holly Denton has been treated for cancer. So has fellow Verona resident Diane Braschi, and Joni Jasterzbski, the art teacher at F.N. Brown and Brookdale elementary schools. They’ve experienced cancer support groups but they wanted something more, something that would pass along to other cancer patients the inspiration and energy that they discovered outside those groups that got them through their treatments. Something that would help them continue to heal after the cancer was gone.

That something is WINGS, an acronym for Women Inspiring, Nurturing, Giving Strength & Support. The group has created a series of free monthly events on healing arts that, they hope, will help alleviate the stress and anxiety that cancer patients often feel before, during and after treatments. And in the process, create a positive environment for self care that can help patients recover their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

“You want to find peace,” says Braschi, “because cancer is such a frightening thing.”

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The founders of WINGS came together through the work of Lynn Ferrer, a registered holistic nurse who uses Reiki, an outgrowth of Japanese buddhism, and reflexology to mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy. Ferrer leads Reiki workshops at Saint Barnabus Medical Center, where she has been employed for more than three decades, and trains cancer patients to be Reiki practitioners. Denton, Braschi and Jasterzbski had each participated in Ferrer’s workshops and Denton is training now to be a Reiki practitioner.

Ferrer will be leading WINGS’ kick-off session, “The Energy of Healing” on Wednesday, January 26. That will be followed by “Restorative Yoga” on Wednesday, February 16, as well as sessions on music, nutrition, dance and art therapy by presenters who are also, for the most part former cancer patients. Information on all WINGS events can be found on the group’s Web site.
(You can register to attend by calling 973-400-9529 or sending an e-mail to [email protected].)

Denton, Braschi and Jasterzbski put together the initial lineup of topics and speakers based on the things that helped them the most during their treatments. They plan on having a resource table at every meeting, and say there will be ample time for discussion among participants after the presentations are given. WINGS, which is being supported by the Minette Grosso McKenna Angel Foundation, a Verona cancer charity, and the Mountainside Health Foundation, is open to patients with all forms of cancer.

“There is value,” says Denton, “in being in a room with people who have been through the same things.”

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


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