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Letters from two daughters of breast cancer survivors strike charitable chord

Alyssa Rowe, left, and Michelle DeYoe raised $382 last spring.

Alyssa Rowe, left, and Michelle DeYoe raised $382 last spring.

Nancy Timm Bowen, president of the Sisterhood Wellness Center of Derby, recently emailed the following letter to The Buffalo News after receiving a donation from Alyssa Rowe of Portville. The agency has helped Alyssa’s mother, Amy, through cancer treatment and recovery.

Following that is a letter Alyssa’s friend, Michelle DeYoe wrote to the Pink Pumpkin Project of Allegany, which helped her mother, Tammie, of Cuba, N.Y., through a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments during the last year. Lynn Anzivine, founder and head of the nonprofit, established it in memory of her sister-in-law, Laurie Anzivine Ogle, who died from breast cancer in 2007. 

Dear Buffalo News,

I am the president and co-founder of the Sisterhood Wellness Center Inc., a not-for-profit organization that has been providing weekend retreats for breast cancer survivors in WNY & parts of Pennsylvania for the past sixteen years. I have to say that the past four years, SWC has been struggling financially because businesses and organizations have been donating more to large, well-known foundations rather than to local organizations. Also, because prices have increased, it costs about $400 for each participant and it is difficult to find sponsors for these ladies. We don’t know how long we will be able to continue, it depends on what we have in the bank.

RELATED STORY: Alyssa Rowe reflects on her donation

We have been forced to limit the number of ladies attending  to twenty for the retreats that are held twice a year. It is very frustrating for all of us on the Board of Directors, but we feel that at least we are helping some ladies who need this. Our mission statement is “to provide an environment for breast cancer survivors with emotional, spiritual and physical healing through education, association and recreation.” Please understand that the definition of a survivor in our language is “a woman living with a breast cancer diagnosis that may or may not be in remission.” Remission does not mean that they are healed, it means the disease is no longer active and may or may not return.

But this letter is not about SWC and Board frustrations. Instead it is about two high school seniors and how the letter one of them wrote to me brought tears to my eyes and made me realize that even if SWC has to limit who we help, even helping one person makes an impact. For these two teenagers to do what they have done has reinforced my hope for a brighter future for our children of today, so many who suffer from “entitlement and me syndromes.” Alyssa and Michelle, I commend you on your steps to adulthood and for the caring you have for other people.

Here is what I received in the mail yesterday:

My name is Alyssa Rowe. I recently graduated from Portville Central School and a senior project was required for graduation.

My mom, Amy Rowe, is a breast cancer survivor. One of my classmates, Michelle DeYoe, also has a mother, Tammie DeYoe, that is a breast cancer survivor.

Together, Michelle and I decided to do a kickball tournament to raise money and awareness of breast cancer. With a fee charged to play, hot dogs, drinks and candy sales, Michelle and I raised $382.

Michelle donated her half of the money to the Pink Pumpkin Project, a breast cancer survivor and fighter group, recently started in our area, as they have helped out Michelle in various ways.

I would like to donate my half of the money to Sisterhood Wellness Center. This group had been kind enough to include my mom in yearly retreats. My mom is so thankful for this group of wonderful friends that have helped her tremendously!

As my mom returns home from retreats, she’s had many stories to tell and always brings home great items that she made. Many wonderful memories for all those included is why I hope you will graciously accept this donation of $191.


Alyssa Rowe.

Dear Ms. (Lynn) Anzivine and the Pink Pumpkin Project:

I am a high school senior ready to graduate from Portville Central School. For our senior English class, we were given the opportunity to choose a project to complete for our final grade. I chose to hold an event that would raise money for your agency. I decided to hold a kickball tournament on 5/28/16 at the Portville Central School with the help of my friend Alyssa, her mom and my mom.

I chose your organization to donate my portion of the money to because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2015. Your organization reached out and helped her when she needed it most. I wanted to give back to your organization as my family is very grateful for the help you provided us.


Michele DeYoe

The Pink Pumpkin Project pumpkin sale is going on now at For $12.50, you can buy a special pumpkin, pick it up Oct. 17 in Olean and support the work of the nonprofit group. Sisterhood Wellness Center will host its next retreat Oct. 14; it’s already booked solid. Support the cause at

The Pink Pumpkin Project helped Michelle DeYoe’s mother, Tammie, through breast cancer treatment. The nonprofit helps those in the Olean area with proceeds raised from the sale of pumpkins like these.

The Pink Pumpkin Project helped Michelle DeYoe’s mother, Tammie, through breast cancer treatment. The nonprofit helps those in the Olean area with proceeds raised from the sale of pumpkins like these.



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