‘It Was Life-Changing’: NCHS Grad Gives Back To Program Supporting Women with Breast Cancer


When she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in March 2011—soon to undergo chemotherapy, radiation and two surgeries for a lumpectomy—Karen Tiani Hussey felt that she needed to do something for herself.

L-R: Sharon O’Connell and Karen Tiani Hussey, both involved in ‘Casting for Recovery,’ a support program for women with breast cancer. Credit: Michael Dinan

The 1983 New Canaan High School graduate’s friends knew that she had breast cancer, but didn’t truly understand how she felt while fighting the disease.

Soon she heard about a two-day retreat in upstate Connecticut for women in all stages of breast cancer.

“For me, it was life-changing,” Tiani recalled on a recent morning, one of about 20 people including several New Canaan firefighters gathered outside Town Hall and wearing pink ‘Casting for Recovery’ T-shirts during a mini-rally for this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

New Canaan Fire Department members are throwing their support behind women battling breast cancer by giving to ‘Casting for Recovery.’ Here NCFD members are sporting pink T-shirts for the organization together with program participants and supporters. Photo published with owner’s permission

“The camaraderie among the women. We all have the same common denominator: breast cancer. It was just a wonderful retreat.”

A six-year breast cancer survivor, Hussey is now program leader for Casting for Recovery in Connecticut. Each year, the organization raises money to send 14 women to the Litchfield County retreat where activities include, yoga, evening circle, morning walks and meditations, knot tying, equipment overview, emotional gathering, fly casting instructions and practice, “what do fish eat” session, art therapy, Sunday fishing, ending slide show of the weekend, graduation and sharing of information for future alumni events.

“I loved it so much, I wanted to keep being active and involved in it, so that is why I am here today to try and sell shirts so that women can share the same experience I did,” Hussey said.

She has support. Casting for Recovery is spotlighting program information in the display windows outside The Playhouse on Elm Street, and the New Canaan Fire Department has purchased T-shirts to help raise funds. (Those wishing to donate to the Connecticut retreat also may do so here and specify ‘Connecticut retreat’ in the comments area.)

Fire Chief Jack Hennessey said the department and its members were approached by Hussey and decided to support the program.

“Our firefighters are wearing the pink tee shirts on Fridays this month to show support for this great  program,” Hennessey said. “Shirts are available for purchase at the fire marshal’s office during normal business hours.”

All proceeds for the $20 T-shirts go to “Casting for Recovery,” the chief said.

So far, the Connecticut program has sold about 200 T-shirts, Hussey said. Fundraising efforts go on year-round and include raffles, dinners and auctions. Nationwide, the organization operated 55 retreats this year for more than 800 women of all ages and stages of breast cancer, according to Sharon O’Connell, a program coordinator and survivor of the disease.

“I wish we could do more than one” retreat per year, O’Connell said. Last year’s retreat and next year’s will be held in June, she said.

4 thoughts on “‘It Was Life-Changing’: NCHS Grad Gives Back To Program Supporting Women with Breast Cancer

  1. Thank You Karen, You and I are very strong women, I am a 15 year survivor and I wore my Pink Shirt to the San Diego Zoo and had a few people come up to me and ask about it, I am very proud to wear my shirt here in Ca. And thank You to “OUR FIRE FIGHTER FAMILY” and yes I said Fire Family, My husband worked for the Cal Dept of Forestry for 32 when we were told I had stage 2 breast cancer, We are family no matter if we are working in Stamford or the desert of Ca, Thank You all who support Karen and all the men and women who are fighting this or who have known someone who has gone through this.

  2. A big heartfelt thank you to Rosanna Dipanni for organizing the sale of the T-Shirts at the New Canaan Town Hall. It was thru her efforts that this event last Friday was possible. Rosanna was a participant at this year’s retreat and she can attest to the positive and emotional experience gained by all of its participants. Because of all of her hard work and dedication to CfR the employee’s will continue to wear the Pink shirts on Fridays this month to show their support. Thank you Rosanna!

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