MARGATE – Residents and visitors learned how to protect themselves from skin, breast and other cancers at the Margate Fire Department’s first-ever Wellness Day, held Friday, June 29 at Firehouse No. 1 on Washington and Ventnor avenues. But the event was more like a celebration of life for one Margate firefighter.
The event started simply as a way to get the AMI mobile mammogram van to visit Margate and synergized to include other organizations offering information that could save a life, said firefighter Danyl Loyle, who helped organize the event.
“It was one of the first things she did when she returned to work,” Fire Chief Dan Adams said. “She’s back, better than ever.”
Loyle found herself battling a different type of blaze last year when she discovered she had an aggressive form of hormone receptor positive breast cancer and underwent a single mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery.
“Luckily it was Stage 0, but after doing a lot of research, I opted for a mastectomy,” Loyle said.
She underwent treatment at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia and was out of work for six months.
“That was my personal choice, which was made easier because there have been 10 women in my family who have had breast cancer, so I am genetically susceptible,” she said.
At first, Loyle wanted to have nipple-sparing surgery, but her doctors recommended a total mastectomy and she agreed.
“They saved my life,” she said. “When the pathology report came back after surgery, they found more cancer in the nipple area.”
Loyle said the Margate City Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Associated wanted to celebrate her being diagnosed cancer-free and had learned about the AMI mobile mammography van offering free mammograms for women in Pleasantville.
“The guys wanted to do something to raise awareness and help other women get diagnosed early. It started with the idea of getting the mammogram van here and just grew,” Loyle said.
The van provided free mammograms by appointment and several walk-ins were served, according to Sheryl D’Amico, who worked with Lynette Bonanni in the van, which was parked in the firehouse parking lot.
“We send the reports to the patient’s doctor,” D’Amico said.
Sadly, one woman had to be turned away because she hadn’t seen her doctor for more than 18 months.
“That’s one of the parameters we have to follow,” she said. “A woman must have seen her doctor within the year.”
Margate’s Danny Feltwell Jr., 9, who earlier this year underwent a stem cell transplant to treat his second bout with childhood cancer, was there to encourage people to sign up to become a stem cell donor.
“We’re running out of T-shirts,” he said as he buried his head in a pile of T-shirts looking for just the right size.
Loyle said the department would be selling Margate Fire Department T-shirts with a pink ribbon on the pocket throughout the summer and donating proceeds to an organization that can make a local impact.
“We’ll decide on the organization at our next union meeting,” she said.
Also tabling at the event was Gilda’s Club, South Jersey Cancer Fund and the Dean Randazzo Cancer Fund. Douglas Garcia provided chair massages.
Loyle thanked area business owners who supported the event by providing refreshments, including Bocca, No. 7311 Bakery, Aversa Bakery and Junior’s Donuts and Dogs. California Yogurt provided discount coupons as giveaways.
Loyle was pleased with the turn-out but said next year the department might have it on a Saturday, so more visitors can attend.