AN INSPIRATION Despite diagnosis, no stopping Aimee Reed

An Inspiration Despite diagnosis, no stopping Aimee Reed

Pawcatuck native honored by Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation

By Nancy Burns-Fusaro – Westerly Sun Staff Writer

WESTERLY — Inspiration could easily be Aimee Reed’s given name. It’s definitely the word her friends and associates use most often when they talk about Reed, a triathlon athlete, and her courage, kindness, sunny personality and dedication. It’s definitely one of the reasons she’s been chosen as this year’s Westerly/Pawcatuck Breast Cancer Awareness Honoree by the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation.

On Oct. 19, Reed will be honored by the foundation at a reception at the Westerly Library. But first comes triathlon number twelve, and the Brodeur foundation’s Walk Across Southeastern Connecticut.

Reed is in training for the Ocean Community YMCA’s 11th annual Y Triathlon on Sunday, and the Brodeur Foundation’s benefit walk six days later.

“Aimee Reed is our inspiration,” said Sandy Maniscalco of Westerly, co-founder and development director of the Brodeur foundation. “Occasionally you’ll find a few extraordinary people who go above and beyond in terms of helping, but the thing about Amy is that she goes way above and way beyond.”

On Saturday, Maniscalco and Reed finished a six-mile training walk to help them prepare for the Oct. 1 walk. “She is so revved up,” said Maniscalco. “I tell you, there’s no stopping her.”

Earlier this summer, Reed placed first in her division at a Narragansett triathlon, and last year she competed in every event that involved running, biking and swimming event in the region. Despite dealing with the many medical appointments associated with her metastatic, triple negative, BRCA-2 positive, stage IIIC inflammatory breast cancer, the 32-yearold Pawcatuck native with the big smile spends most of her spare time training for triathlons and encouraging others. She’s created a fundraising site and a Facebook page for the Brodeur foundation walk because she believes in the mission of organization, she said.

The Brodeur foundation, a New London-based nonprofit that commits 100 percent of its gross fundraising dollars to breast cancer research, has raised more than $3.4 million and funded 34 research grants since it was created in 2006.

Maniscalco said although Reed’s been though chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, and earlier this summer got news that her cancer had returned, Reed keeps on going, in an upbeat, positive way.

“And her devotion to fitness is incredible,” she said.

This year, said Maniscalco, in addition to holding a number of breast cancer awareness events in downtown Westerly-Pawcatuck, and the reception on Oct. 19, the foundation had hoped to recruit at least 30 local people to walk on the “TONORMA in support of We TRI 4 Aimee Reed” team during the Walk Across Southeastern Connecticut on Oct. 1.

“We’ve surpassed the thirty,” said Maniscalco, “but absolutely more people are welcome to join the team.

We are especially looking for participants from the Westerly- Pawcatuck area, but everyone is welcome.” There are three different distances to choose from, she said: a full marathon, a half marathon and a quarter marathon, each with affiliated fundraising costs. “Students and cancer survivors have reduced goals,” said Maniscalco, noting that the fundraising commitment isn’t due until Dec. 31.

In April of 2015, while preparing for her most challenging triathlon season — four sprint triathlons, one Olympic- distance triathlon, and one Ironman 70.3 triathlon — Reed found a lump the size of a golf ball on the right side of her breast. The doctors told her they had never seen a case like hers.

“When I was diagnosed, I put myself out there,” said Reed, who received the 2016 Relay for Life of Greater Westerly Courage Award, which recognizes a local person with cancer or a cancer survivor who has had a significant impact on the lives of others. “I thought someone else might be searching for information … there might be other people going through something similar who could be inspired.”

“I don’t think there’s enough education from a patient’s point of view,” she added, “and you never know, there might be someone searching for information like I was.”

Polly Chorlton of Westerly, Reed’s triathlon coach, gets together with Reed every Thursday afternoon for a bike, a run and a swim. “She hasn’t had it easy,” said Chorlton. “But she is such an inspiration.”

“I couldn’t do this without the support of my family and friends,” said Reed with her trademark smile. For information about the walk, visit www.www.tbbcf.org

 

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