The day Maggie Driscoll-Conole was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was preparing for a dinner at her home. Just two hours before her coworkers from BNY Mellon were expected to arrive, Maggie received the call from her doctor confirming her diagnosis: breast cancer. At 35 years old, she would require chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. While her sisters urged her to take time to process the news, Maggie refused to cancel the dinner.
That’s when Maggie’s childhood friend, Anne O’Driscoll MacFarlane, stepped in. Anne headed over to Maggie’s home, put on an apron and made sure the evening went smoothly – just the way Maggie wanted.
“Anne knew right away what I needed: to proceed with this special night in order to maintain a sense of normalcy,” Maggie recalls. “And that’s what happened.”
Anne was one of Maggie’s three close friends she turned to during her diagnosis, treatment and recovery. They each know Maggie from different times in her life and provided unconditional support during her difficult diagnosis. At BCRF’s Hot Pink Party on May 12, they will be honored with the Unsung Hero Award for their incredible dedication to their friend during her time of need.
“I am beyond blessed to have such thoughtful, genuine individuals in my life,” Maggie said.
Anne literally weathered storms with Maggie. During the darkest days of winter, she would sleep over, and shovel snow out of Maggie’s driveway to ensure she never missed a doctor’s appointment.
“She made sure I had everything I needed throughout my treatment,” Maggie adds.
Meanwhile, her high school friend, Agata Gajewski-Sathi, stepped out of her own comfort zone and conquered her fears to help Maggie. Having never driven off Long Island, NY before Maggie’s diagnosis, she embarked on a six-hour drive from Long Island to Boston to visit Maggie shortly after hearing the news.
“With Agata being a new driver, I felt a little guilty that my health situation set her loose on the thousands of unsuspecting drivers on I-95, but I was so incredibly touched that she made the effort to be by my side when I needed it the most,” Maggie said.
Agata, who runs a hair salon on Long Island, now opens her doors one Monday each month to treat local cancer patients free of charge.
“She knows from watching me that a massage, a manicure, or simply having someone there to shave your head for the first time, can make a world of difference,” Maggie said.
At work, Maggie had her own team of cheerleaders led by her colleague and friend, Janet Chambers.
“She rallied everyone in the office, to keep me company every Saturday, providing seriously needed relief for my family members,” Maggie said.
Following her chemotherapy treatments on Thursdays, Janet would organize “puzzle parties” on Saturdays to keep Maggie company during her most difficult days.
While each friend had their own distinct way of helping Maggie, they simultaneously were supporting each other as well. Unbeknownst to Maggie, the women were in contact on a group text chain, keeping everyone updated on Maggie’s wellbeing as well as their own.
“It was never a competition about who helped the most: they each came together and genuinely cared for and supported each other as well as me,” Maggie said.
Now over a decade later, Maggie remains grateful for the compassion each of her friends exemplified during her diagnosis – and felt compelled to nominate them for the esteemed Roslyn and Leslie Goldstein Unsung Hero Award.
“I would never wish the experience of a cancer diagnosis on anyone, but the outpouring of love and friendship that followed was truly extraordinary,” Maggie says. “There will never be a day when I take my friends for granted.”
Maggie Driscoll-Conole will present her three friends: Anne O’Driscoll MacFarlane, Agata Gajewski-Sathi and Janet Chambers with the Unsung Hero Award at BCRF’s Hot Pink Party on May 12 at the Park Avenue Armory. Established by longtime BCRF supporter Roslyn “Roz” Goldstein, the annual Roslyn and Leslie Goldstein Unsung Hero Award honors those who provided compassion, love and support to friends impacted by breast cancer.
Past Unsung Hero Award recipients include:
2017 (Boston) - Elizabeth Healey presented by Karen Hale
2016 (New York) – Melinda Blinken presented by Gail Hilson
2015 (New York) – Leonard Lauder (Sung Hero) presented by Sir Elton John
2014 (Boston) – Donna Stearns presented by Darby Stott
2014 (New York) – Cindy Citrone presented by Roz Goldstein
2013 (New York) – Judie Schlager presented by Sandy Krakoff
2012 (New York) – Margaret Stewart presented by Leonard Lauder
2011 (New York) – Terry Savage presented by Andrea Redmond
2010 (New York) – Janice Reals Ellig presented by Christine Nolte
2009 (New York) – Pat Cayne presented by Patricia Rosenwald
2008 (New York) – Robin Clarfield Tolvin presented by Pat Clarfield
2007 (New York) – Sue-ann Friedman presented by Roz Goldstein