This week's "Good Neighbor" is a breast cancer survivor who's paying it forward. She is a working wife and mom who is now starting her own clothing line that she hopes will inspire others.
Kelly LaBella was living the dream - a young, happy wife and mother, seemingly healthy. So that's why her breast cancer diagnosis in December 2012 came as a devastating surprise.
"I immediately thought of my husband and my son. I just kept thinking I was going to die, as every person thinks they're going to, and was I going to leave my little boy," LaBella said.
But on the very same day the doctor delivered her diagnosis, in stepped the WNY Breast Cancer Resource Center at Roswell Park and coordinator Joanne Janicki to calm Kelly's fears.
"Giving her some reassurance that we're going to help her get through this. We're going to help her son get through this," said Janicki.
LaBella remembers their first meeting.
"Joanne came in and sat down beside me and she took my hand and she just let me cry," she said. "She gave me a little white bag with some items in it for my little boy. Some goldfish crackers, some water and a little coloring book that I was to give to him so that when I told him that mommy was sick that it wouldn't be so scary."
LaBella was 42-years-old and had no family history of breast cancer. She found herself battling stage II Invasive Carcinoma in the left breast and Ductal Carcinoma in the right.
She underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy, 33 rounds of radiation, a bilateral mastectomy, and reconstructive surgeries, and through it all LaBella turned to Janicki and the Breast Cancer Resource Center for help. Not just emotionally, but also with things like free hats, scarves, and wigs. LaBella is now a one year cancer survivor and she's already giving back.
She recently started a company called Survive in the Buff. She sell t-shirts, tank tops, and car decals all with a buffalo and pink ribbon logo. She's paying it forward by giving 30% off all the proceeds back to the Breast Cancer Resource Center.
"I need to do this. It's kind of helping me heal- that I can help other women that are going through it now," she said.
The Western New York Breast Cancer Resource relies totally on funding from donations and that's why efforts like LaBella's are so important.
To find out more about Survive in the Buff, click here.
The Western New York Breast Cancer Resource Center is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Evening hours are available by appointment and can be made by calling the Center at 845-4432. WNYBRC is located on the second floor of the hospital in in the Breast Center, Room #2302. Help is available there to anyone, not just patients at Roswell Park.
If you have a future "Good Neighbors" story idea, e-mail Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com .