Lifetime Networks and SHAPE Magazine's Remarkable Women

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I survived breast cancer

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Lifetime Networks and SHAPE Magazine's Remarkable Women

Lifetime Networks and SHAPE Magazine's Remarkable Women-2

Geri Bush

Geri Barish has been at the forefront of the battle against breast cancer on Long Island since 1988, and has earned the distinction of being New York State's preeminent breast cancer activist.

In 1996, Geri was awarded the 1st Annual New York State Innovation in Breast Cancer Early Detection and Research Award. Governor and Mrs. Pataki at the Executive Mansion in Albany, and numerous groups and organizations in the local community have honored her. One of her more recent honors was to be included in a short list of potential candidates to fill the State Senate seat left vacant by the death of her dear and beloved friend, Norman J. Levy.   Geri is no stranger to the pain and torment of cancer: she is a breast cancer victim and survivor. Her son, Michael, lost his life at a young age of 25 from complications of Hodgkin's Disease. Geri promised Michael that she would dedicate her life to finding the causes and cures for cancer, and she has done so to this day. When Geri visited the White House she told President Clinton that her son had always wanted to see the house-he took the small picture geri brought with her and put it in his pocket-he then said "now he will always be here." Geri will never forget the chill she got—Senator Clinton visited the Hewlett House and cut the Pink Ribbon to open the Pathway of Hope—what a thrill for everyone.  

As President of "1 in 9", Geri spearheaded negotiations of The New York State's Pesticide Registry Law, which created an accessible database to determine whether there is a relationship between pesticide use and breast cancer. In March 1997, she spoke in Albany for the bipartisan "Mastectomy Bill", which passed in both the Senate and Assembly. Significantly, Geri stood side by side with Senator Alfonse D'Amato, New York State Senator Joseph Bruno, Majority Leader and Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, Mrs. Libby Pataki and the entire delegation to announce the passing of the Bill. On March 29, 1997, Governor and Mrs. Pataki came to the State Supreme Court in Mineola to sign the Bill into law.  

Her appointment as Executive Director of Hewlett House fulfills a dream and vision Geri had when she began her own struggle with breast cancer. Geri vowed a long time ago, that given the opportunity, no one would have to go through what she did: to battle this dreadful disease alone. Hewlett House is a multi-purpose, professionally staffed facility in a home-like setting, for cancer victims and their family and friends. It is a central place offering information, counseling and meetings; where a pot of coffee is always on the stove and a listening ear available. As Executive Director, Geri oversees the entire operation of Hewlett House, the fundraising efforts and volunteers.  

Geri's dedication and perseverance has resulted in increased national funding, the implementation and overseeing of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, which is the first scientific symposium held on Long Island to determine whether there was a need for a separate Long Island study of breast cancer; and the establishment of the ongoing Michael Scott Barish Human Cancer Grant at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for the research into genetic mutations that could cause breast cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia. In March 1997, Dr. Michael Wigler, the scientist supported by that grant, announced the discovery of the breast cancer gene, P-TEN. To date, 1 in 9 has donated almost $1 million dollars!

Geri is a member of the National Action Plan Personal Risk Factors Committee, the Governor's Health Task Force, the Ad-Hoc Committee of Cornell University and the Department of Environmental Conservation on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors, and the American Cancer Society's "Reach To Recovery" Volunteers. She has met personally with President and Mrs. Clinton and has been instrumental in persuading United States Senator D'Amato, NY State Senator Joseph Bruno, Majority Leader and Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, to throw their full weight into Long Island's battle against breast cancer.  

In 1997, Geri was the Suffolk County Women's Bar Association and Women and the Law Committee honoree. She has been honored by the Sierra Club of Long Island as "Environmentalist of the Year", received the Long Island Community Award from the Nurses Society of Long Island, the "Distinguished Service Award" from the League of Women's Voters, and the Town of Hempstead's "Pathfinder Award", to name a few of the many honors bestowed upon her.  

In 1993, Geri and her husband (wheel chair bound) and their son Eric traveled to Las Vegas for a Computer Convention and combined vacation. While there, they received a phone call that their home had burned down-Geri just made some phone, had her friends waiting at the airport with warm clothes and a wheel chair. They checked into a hotel and Geri proceeded to find a home handicapped accessible that they could rent and resumed putting their lives back in order. They lost everything, but luckily Geri found some pictures to treasure.  

Geri lives in Baldwin, New York with her husband Alan, her son Eric, and faithful dog, Sam.

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