Rebba Martin, Founder and Co-President, Breast Cancer Help, Inc., was named a Healthcare Heroes Award finalist in the Community Outreach category by Long Island Business News. The finalists and winners were named at the Long Island Business News 2009 Healthcare Heroes Awards breakfast on October 22 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. Health Care Heroes is an award program produced by Long Island Business News.
Ms. Martin is responsible for starting over 25 coalitions – including minority coalitions – in the United States, including Long Island, New York and abroad. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 50, she soon discovered that 20 people in her neighborhood were also diagnosed with breast cancer.
In 1992, Ms. Martin formed the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition for Long Island, Inc. With the help and support of Dr. Michael J. Feinstein of Plainview, Mary Hibbard, and Mr. Michael LoGrande, she began to survey the women in her neighborhood about breast cancer and put their responses on a map until, after 18 months, she and her volunteers had covered 8,750 homes in her ZIP code. That same year, she testified to the Center for Disease Control in Nassau County regarding the possible link between breast cancer and water contaminated with heavy metals.
With the mapping project complete, Ms. Martin stepped down from the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition to devote her energies to her national initiative – Breast Cancer HELP: (Healthy Environment for a Living Planet). She has served as Co-President of Breast Cancer Help since its inception in 1994. In 2003, the organization opened its Long Island Cancer Help and Wellness Center in memory of Marian McGrory’s daughter Maureen. Currently located in Bay Shore, the center runs ongoing programs and lectures to increase awareness and early detection and promote healthy lifestyles and wellness.
Under her leadership, Breast Cancer Help has donated $5,000 each to Stony Brook Medical Center and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and a digital mammography unit to Southside Hospital. She also worked with town officials in cracking down on bogus drop-off clothing bins, which claim to go to local charities but send the money off Long Island. Working with Earthrite Textile, Breast Cancer Help has 150 clothing bins throughout Long Island and Queens County and has collected over $100,000 from sales proceeds. In February 2009, Lorraine was inducted into the Long Island Volunteer Hall of Fame.
Ms. Martin’s campaign to find answers has led her to The White House, to Albany, across the state and to meeting halls in schools, synagogues, churches and hospitals all over Long Island. She’s been featured in various newspapers, magazines and TV talk shows. She appeared on two breast cancer documentaries: “Rachel’s Daughter’s,” which aired on HBO; and “Say It, Fight It, Cure It” which was directed by Lee Grant for Lifetime Television. Both were aired in October 1997.