THE BATTLE WITH CANCER

Loula Loi Alafoyiannis

If I had the strength to stand up before everyone, it is because I had the strength to stand up before life and claim it, but nothing happened just by itself.  This happened due to the endless love of my husband John, my children, doctors, U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Edie Fraser, Daisy Gallagher, Judy K. Sheppard, Stamatia Trivoulides, and from the love and respect from lifetime friends all over the world.  First and foremost, my first doctor, Dr. Maria Theodoulou from Sloan Kettering Memorial, Dr. Kimberly Vanzee,  and Dr. Richard Wang just to name a few.  But the icing on the cake was when Gus Kostalas, had come to visit me at the rehab who was the CFO of Lenox Hill Hospital at that time, but who is currently the Senior V.P. of Managed Care for the entire Northwell Health system.  He said, "Loula from now on…forget Memorial, Lenox will be your hospital".  The doctors from Lenox that I wish to thank are Dr. Jill Kalman, Dr. Bushra Mina, Dr. Lazaro, Dr. Stephen Nickolas, Dr. Najjar, Dr. Firas M. Chamas, and Dr. Panagiotis Manolas to all of whom I am so grateful. Cancer would be my challenge, and I did my first mastectomy in 1996, the first of many operations I had to undergo, a procedure that I decided to go through completely alone, returning to my home country in Greece to do it. I chose to do so in order to not disrupt the education of my children.  My heritage as an offspring of Kosmas Aitolos demanded me to act so.

23 Years on and I still fight, but It is not your pity that I claim before this sharing tonight: It is your courage that I want to bring out and tell you this: If you truly want to live, you will live.

The gift of life is handed to me still to this day, I believe not only due to my strength and perseverance, but because of my persistence to help countless families from Greece with sick children and devote my life into using all available resources that I have to save others.