Above: Theresa Graves, M.D., breast cancer surgeon and kayaker. Submitted photo
Making a splash in the fight against breast cancer & inviting others to join
Theresa Graves was in the Kayak Centre in Wickford earlier this year when she heard a voice come from behind a counter. “Hi, Dr. Graves!”
It was her patient, Daryl West, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022. Improbably, her mother, Deb Shapiro, was also diagnosed with breast cancer three months later. Both women were being cared for by Graves, an East Greenwich resident who oversees the Lifespan Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Center in Providence.
Graves has been treating women and men who have breast cancer in Rhode Island for decades and, knowing how stressful treatment can be, she believes passionately about making it as convenient as possible. So more than 10 years ago, she created the first multi-disiplinary breast cancer clinic in the state. The idea is to have a patient be able to see all the specialists they need during one visit. So, instead of booking an appointment with your medical oncologist one day, then your breast cancer surgeon another, getting scans during another appointment and having your tumor reviewed by the tumor board on yet another, at the LMBCC, a patient could get all of those visits done in one single day.
West and Shapiro were so impressed with the care they’ve received here in Rhode Island, they decided to create a fundraiser for the center – focused on something all three women love: getting out on the water. Thus, “Paddling for Progress” was born. The inaugural event takes place this Sunday, Sept. 17, at Wilson Park in North Kingstown.
“When they came in for visits, part of the visit was, ‘Where are you kayaking?'” Graves recalled about when she’d see West or Shapiro in the office.
That focus on an outdoor activity made sense for Graves – the desire to be active and in nature.
“I feel that being outside really grounds people,” she said. “It helps us feel calm, happy, connected to ourselves.”
So when Shapiro asked if Graves out be open to a paddling fundraiser, that was an easy yes. Shapiro and West want to let people know what Rhode Island has to offer. There are now five multidisciplinary Lifespan clinics around the state.
For Shapiro, it’s about providing for people in the state she’s made her home. “People will get excellent care, but also people who give a damn,” she said. “It’s the thing about being a small state – you can get things done.”
The details: With the support of The Kayak Centre in Wickford and the North Kingstown Harbormaster, Paddle for Progress has a 2-mile paddle route in Wickford Harbor, ensuring a picturesque and serene experience for all participants. Paddle for Progress welcomes small watercraft of all types: kayaks, SUPs, pedalboards, canoes, and row boats. It’s an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends while making a meaningful impact on the lives of those affected by breast cancer. Rain date is Sunday, Sept. 24. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to funding breast oncology research in Rhode Island. All donations will be made directly to Lifespan. Sign up to paddle or just to donate HERE.