Eva Brownman, Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer - 2020's Honoree

Boston Bakes 2020 is dedicated to the memory of Eva Brownman, mother of Carol Brownman Sneider who started The Eva Brownman Breast Cancer Fund at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 1990 and the nonprofit Bakes for Breast Cancer in 1999.

What can I say that, when I was 16 years old, I lost my best friend – my mother – to breast cancer when she was 44 years old in 1973. My mother was born in Brooklyn, a graduate of Hunter College, a blouse buyer for B Gertz, department store.  She married my father, a sickly man, who passed away in 1966 leaving her with two young children to raise and a business to oversee. My mother never dated after losing my father.  Unselfishly, she gave everything she had to raising her daughters. She was always there for us. My mother was a strong woman who ran a business, loved to travel, cook and bake.  Seven years later, my younger sister and I would lose her to breast cancer.  She kept her battle with breast cancer a secret from us, and only a few knew about her condition.  I believe she kept her secret from us for us to live life as we had always done and not have us worrying about her. How she kept this from us must have taken enormous strength and courage. Honestly, I did not know the word cancer then.  It was not in my vocabulary.

In the late 60’s, breast cancer was a subject no one talked about.  We were accustomed to long hospital stays for our parents because at that time that was the ways patients were treated. Never did a parent’s mortality ever enter our minds because they always came home until the one time they didn’t.  Our mother’s breast cancer was a well-guarded secret for she wanted us to have a normal family environment filled even with disagreements. We only found out about her breast cancer a month before she died.  After a long hospital stay, my mother was home one week before she passed away in her bedroom.  Listening to her that night has stayed with me forever. She was suffering and I am sure she was scared, I do not know for sure.  I stayed in my room as I knew she would not want me to see her like that.  The only thing I could do was to get her nurse, who was asleep, so she would not be alone. The next morning, she was gone.

Growing up, I thought by the time I was an adult, science would have all the answers and breast cancer would no longer exist.  That did not happen.   After the family business was sold, along with my sister, some friends, and family, we entered into the world of fundraising to raise money for breast cancer research.  We felt that it was research that would save lives. In the end, I wanted to make sure I saw my daughter grow up – something my mother did not get a chance to see for herself with her daughters.  It is our goal that no mother should lose a child, no child a mother, no spouse a spouse, and no friend a friend to this indiscriminate disease called breast cancer.

 


Eva Brownman, Cape & Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer - 2020's Honoree

Cape & Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer 2020 is dedicated to the memory of Eva Brownman, mother of Carol Brownman Sneider – a resident of Mashpee, who started The Eva Brownman Breast Cancer Fund at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 1990 and the nonprofit Bakes for Breast Cancer in 1999.

What can I say that, when I was 16 years old, I lost my best friend – my mother – to breast cancer when she was 44 years old in 1973. My mother was born in Brooklyn, a graduate of Hunter College, a blouse buyer for B Gertz, department store.  She married my father, a sickly man, who passed away in 1966 leaving her with two young children to raise and a business to oversee. My mother never dated after losing my father.  Unselfishly, she gave everything she had to raising her daughters. She was always there for us. My mother was a strong woman who ran a business, loved to travel, cook and bake.  Seven years later, my younger sister and I would lose her to breast cancer.  She kept her battle with breast cancer a secret from us, and only a few knew about her condition.  I believe she kept her secret from us for us to live life as we had always done and not have us worrying about her. How she kept this from us must have taken enormous strength and courage. Honestly, I did not know the word cancer then.  It was not in my vocabulary.

In the late 60’s, breast cancer was a subject no one talked about.  We were accustomed to long hospital stays for our parents because at that time that was the ways patients were treated. Never did a parent’s mortality ever enter our minds because they always came home until the one time they didn’t.  Our mother’s breast cancer was a well-guarded secret for she wanted us to have a normal family environment filled even with disagreements. We only found out about her breast cancer a month before she died.  After a long hospital stay, my mother was home one week before she passed away in her bedroom.  Listening to her that night has stayed with me forever. She was suffering and I am sure she was scared, I do not know for sure.  I stayed in my room as I knew she would not want me to see her like that.  The only thing I could do was to get her nurse, who was asleep, so she would not be alone. The next morning, she was gone.

Growing up, I thought by the time I was an adult, science would have all the answers and breast cancer would no longer exist.  That did not happen.   After the family business was sold, along with my sister, some friends and family, we entered into the world of fundraising to raise money for breast cancer research.  We felt that it was research that would save lives. In the end, I wanted to make sure I saw my daughter grow up – something my mother did not get a chance to see for herself with her daughters.  It is our goal that no mother should lose a child, no child a mother, no spouse a spouse, and no friend a friend to this indiscriminate disease called breast cancer.


Donna Conforti Rhode Island Bakes for Breast Cancer Honoree - 2020's Honoree

The Bakes For Breast Cancer 2020 honoree for Rhode Island is Donna Conforti. She is a 20 year survivor, diagnosed in April of 1999.  During the subsequent two decades, Donna has been an active volunteer and fundraiser. More importantly, she has provided counsel and comfort to friends and family who have faced their own battles with cancer.

Donna  lived most of her life in Cranston, RI.  She worked for a number of years as bookkeeper, administrative assistant, and office manager. However, the vocations about which she is most proud were first as wife to her husband Ray and mother to her sons Paul and Raymond, and later on as mother-in-law to their wives Kristen and Kimberly (respectively) and “Nana” to grandchildren Will, Justin, Kate, Paige, Drew, and Grace.

Donna first became involved with the American Cancer Society as a Reach to Recovery volunteer. The hours she spent supporting women through their battle and helping them process their emotions also helped Donna come to terms with her own life changes. After a few years as a participant at a local Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, Donna learned that volunteers were needed to start a Relay for Life event in Cranston.  She and fellow cancer survivor Linda Santurri became co-chairs for the first Cranston Relay for Life event. Together with family and friends, she participated in the event with “Donna’s Dream Team.” Relay for Life became an annual “family camp out,” where Donna was surrounded by family and friends, working together to help raise money for and awareness of the need for research to find a cure.

Donna’s commitment to helping find a cure has been passed down through two generations.  Her son Paul is a long time participant in Bakes for Breast Cancer, first with Finale Desserterie in Boston, and now through Red Stripe and Mill’s Tavern restaurants in Rhode Island.  Her son Raymond has sponsored Relay teams in Connecticut.  And now her grandchildren Justin and Paige are also participating in their own Relay teams.

According to Donna, “Breast cancer is a demon, but we are much closer to finding a cure than ever before. The word ‘cancer’ is one that no one wants to hear as a diagnosis, but I personally found that it also magnified the good things in my life. I was blessed with the loving support of family and friends who stood by me and held me up through it all and to this day. I am thankful that I have been able to make some small contributions in the fight for a cure.  I have had a blessed life, grown old with my husband, been able to witness my sons become men I am so proud of, and to be Nana to six of the best grandchildren there could be.  I want us to find a cure, so every woman who suffers from this disease will have a similar opportunity to flourish in their own way as a survivor.”


Cristina Moniz-Baltatzidis – Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer 2019 Honoree - 2019's Honoree

The 20th Annual Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer is dedicated to the memory of our good friend, Cristina Moniz-Baltatzidis who we had the pleasure to know and work with.

Cristina was happiest when she was with her family and friends, and when she was helping others, both in her professional and personal life. She was a fiercely loyal, trusted, guiding, and deeply loving mother, sister, daughter, wife and friend. Her loss has left a tremendous void in so many people because of it.

Cristina was born in Portugal and grew up in Bristol, Rhode Island. Cristina attended Northeastern University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Upon graduation, she landed a dream job at Boston Magazine. As marketing manager at the magazine, she was responsible for overseeing special advertising sections and special events such as the annual Best of Boston awards ceremony. After Boston Magazine, she was offered a position as marketing director with the Back Bay Restaurant Group. There, she helped refine the branding for a range of restaurant concepts. When Cristina gave birth to her son Aris, she decided that she wanted to stay home to spend time with him so she launched her own marketing firm, Moniz Communications. Through word of mouth, and one client at a time, she ended up representing many of Boston’s best clothing shops, spas and interior design firms. Her clients would all eventually become friends, and many would attribute much of their success to Cristina. She loved to connect friends and clients, past and present, with other people across Boston, in hopes of expanding everyone’s circle of success and good fortune. She selflessly gave terrific advice and would frequently  put others’ needs before her own, even while battling her illness. Her positive spirit will continue to inspire many more great things among those who loved her, worked with her, and wanted to know her better. She was truly such a bright and positive force among those that knew and loved her. She passed last year on New Year’s Eve after a 3-year battle with breast cancer, which she fought with immense courage, grace, integrity, and her trademark style. She was only 44 and leaves behind a 13-year old son and her husband of 18 years.


Toni Berry – Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer - 2018's Honoree

 

This year, Boston Bakes is dedicated to the memory of Toni Berry, mother of Tom Berry, Culinary Director of COJE Management, who is a longtime participant of our event. After being in remission for many years, Toni’s breast cancer came back. She passed away at the age of 49, just after she received her undergraduate degree from UNH with the intention of being able to receive advancements in her field of purchasing.

Tom had a special relationship with his mother along with many special memories. Toni, who had served in the military, settled in New Hampshire all the way from Leakey, Texas with her husband, 23 years her senior. He remembers with deep fondness how hard she always worked and how she often thought of everyone and what they needed.

Toni worked in the purchasing department of University of New Hampshire. She loved to make crafts for family and friends including quilts and Christmas tree ornaments which her son, Tom, uses every year on his Christmas tree. Occasionally, Tom’s mother would cook Southern food, but she was a better baker. Her zucchini bread, which she made with the zucchinis from her garden, was a family favorite. Her zucchini bread recipe is still being made and enjoyed by the Berry family.

Toni was an avid gardener and her tomatoes, Toni Tomatos, were famous. Many years after her death, Tom found seeds that Toni had left in an envelope, which had been stored away, never realizing they were there. When the seeds were planted, they remarkably came to life. Now there are 3 generations of seeds from the tomato seeds Tom found which are planted every year.

When Toni was fighting breast cancer, it was devastating for Tom to watch. He supports our organization and the research we sponsor with the same hope of our organization so that no family or child has to go through what he did. Throughout the years, when Tom became a chef and now as culinary director, Tom has participated, wherever he was working, in our events. In the past, Tom has even gone dessert hopping during Boston Bakes! Now as Culinary Director at COJE Management, all of his restaurants including, Yvonne’s, Ruka, and Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar participate in Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer with incredible desserts.

 


Toni Berry- Cape & Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer - 2018's Honoree

This year, Cape & Islands Bakes is dedicated to the memory of Toni Berry, mother of Tom Berry, Culinary Director of COJE Management, who is a longtime participant of our events in Boston and the Cape & Islands. After being in remission for many years, Toni’s breast cancer came back. She passed away at the age of 49, just after she received her undergraduate degree from UNH with the intention of being able to receive advancements in her field of purchasing.

Tom had a special relationship with his mother along with many special memories. Toni, who had served in the military, settled in New Hampshire all the way from Leakey, Texas with her husband, 23 years her senior. He remembers with deep fondness how hard she always worked and how she often thought of everyone and what they needed.

Toni worked in the purchasing department of University of New Hampshire. She loved to make crafts for family and friends including quilts and Christmas tree ornaments which her son, Tom, uses every year on his Christmas tree. Occasionally, Tom’s mother would cook Southern food, but she was a better baker. Her zucchini bread, which she made with the zucchinis from her garden, was a family favorite. Her zucchini bread recipe is still being made and enjoyed by the Berry family.

Toni was an avid gardener and her tomatoes, Toni Tomatos, were famous. Many years after her death, Tom found seeds that Toni had left in an envelope, which had been stored away, never realizing they were there. When the seeds were planted, they remarkably came to life. Now there are 3 generations of seeds from the tomato seeds Tom found which are planted every year.

When Toni was fighting breast cancer, it was devastating for Tom to watch. He supports our organization and the research we sponsor with the same hope of our organization so that no family or child has to go through what he did. Throughout the years, when Tom became a chef and now as culinary director, Tom has participated, wherever he was working, in our events. In the past, Tom has even gone dessert hopping during our events! Now as Culinary Director at COJE Management, all of his restaurants participate in our event offering incredible desserts for the cause.


Karen Gerry - 2017's Honoree

The 18th Annual Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer is dedicated to the memory of Karen Mammola; mother and mother-in-law of Daniel and Daniella Mammola long time Boston Bakes participants with their restaurant Pellana Prime Steakhouse and Daniella’s Café & Market.  It is most fitting that the 18th year is dedicated to Karen since she was just 18 years old when she first met and worked with Carol Sneider in Carol’s family’s business. It is where Karen met and fell in love with Daniel’s father.  Karen was always a beautiful, strong and independent woman whose devotion to her two children and family always came first. In 2006, Karen was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer which she fought head-on.  For 8 years, Karen’s breast cancer was in remission. Her cancer returned in the spring of 2014; the breast cancer had metastasized and was moving very quickly.  Four months later, Karen lost her battle to cancer and never had the opportunity to meet her first grandchild. She left behind her son Daniel Mammola, his wife Daniella and her daughter Alyssa Gerry. Her legacy and memory lives on within her family.  Karen’s family is devoted to making a difference in the fight against breast cancer in any way possible.

 


Linda Wheaton - 2016's Honoree

Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer and Cape & the Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer 2016 is dedicated to the memory of Linda Wheaton. Linda was the mother of Susan Wheaton Guerin, our Director of Development & Communications, and Michelle Wheaton Stafford, herself a six-year breast cancer survivor.

Linda grew up in New York State, right over the border with Connecticut where her grandparents owned the Bulls Bridge Inn in Kent. Much of Linda’s childhood was shaped by spending days and evenings at the Inn, entertaining the guests with her antics as a child and eventually working when she was old enough. Linda’s time spent at the Inn surely contributed to her love of cooking and baking. She could always be found whipping up new recipes or taking cooking classes to learn something new to share at her next dinner party.

While Linda spent much of her adult life in Connecticut, she eventually moved to Martha’s Vineyard in her early 50’s after having been seduced by the Island. Unfortunately, only a few months after having moved, she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. At that time, Linda was told by her oncologist that she had about 6 months to live. Having two daughters to raise, she took the experimental drugs available, and lived for another 25 years. Sadly, lung cancer finally overcame her at home in Falmouth, MA this past November. Linda surely had embodied the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Linda loved to laugh and have a good time. It is in that spirit that we honor her this year, hoping that others will join Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer in our sweet events that bring a smile to those who participate and funds to help find a cure for breast cancer.


The Breast Oncology Center at The Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at DFCI -2015 Honorees - 2015's Honoree

other dfcimage001 resizedAs we celebrate our Sweet 16, Boston Bakes 2015 is dedicated to the many faces we know and don’t know at the Breast Cancer Oncology Center at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

We thank and honor the researchers, doctors, nurses, staff, social workers, and nutritionists to name a few who dedicate countless hours every day to make a difference in finding a cure for breast cancer, for working on clinical trials to help patients, and for treating patients in all aspects of the treatment and prevention for this indiscriminate disease that touches so many women and men we know and love.

Their dedication is what we celebrate this year for it is because of them that we have come so far. Yet the work of Bakes for Breast Cancer must continue, as does the work at the Breast Oncology Center until there is the cure. There is still so much more work to be done. We are grateful for those who make their lives work and mission to making a difference.

It is with sincere gratitude that we honor Dr. Eric Winer, Director of the Breast Oncology Center at DFCI and his dedicated team of doctors, researchers, nurses, social workers along with the many other people in his department for their commitment and dedication.

We thank them and celebrate them this year. Thank you Dr. Eric Winer for the seventeen years you have been at Dana-Farber and for the incredible team that serves with you day in and day out.

 


Ella Mermelstein - 2014's Honoree

Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer 2014 is dedicated to the memory of Ella Mermelstein.

Ella Mermelstein made life sweet for those she loved, despite the bitter hardships she braved. Born in Lvov, Poland during World War II, Ella survived the Holocaust and was reunited with her parents in Germany before emigrating to Buffalo, NY. Ella graduated High School in 1959, meeting her future husband, Steve, in her senior year. Steve and Ella eventually settled down with four daughters in Los Angeles.

A devoted wife and mother, Ella provided her children with happy childhoods, making the most of life with every school play attended, every holiday celebrated, and every dessert baked. Daughter Suzanne, owner of Mariposa Bakery in Cambridge and a longtime Boston Bakes contributor, particularly recalls enjoying her mother’s specialties: Hollywood cheesecake and Hungarian butter cookies. Through her welcoming spirit, Ella managed a house always full of relatives and friends, and created a warm home for her family for many years.

Ella was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 29. A survivor through and through, she battled the disease for five years before passing at 34, choosing to spend more and more time with family as the years went by. Ella made certain her recipes were passed down to her daughters, despite how young they were at the time.

Ella Mermelstein made the very most of the short time she had, her loving spirit living on to this day in the memories of her four daughters, and now through our charity. Boston Bakes 2014 is dedicated to Ella, and we are proud to honor her.


Anna Roffo Guarino - 2013's Honoree

Anna Roffo Guarino was born in central Italy in the region of Lazio in 1949. Anna and her five siblings immigrated to Boston in May of 1961. Quickly adapting to her new country, Anna made friends in Brighton very quickly and mastered English in three months.

Anna worked after graduating from high school at the Italian Consulate in Boston, but her passion were her three beautiful daughters, five grandchildren and her husband Mario.

Cooking was Anna’s specialty and her lasagna and marinara sauce was so delicious they were featured in the Boston Globe. It was Anna’s fantastic tiramisu that was the jewel of all her recipes.

Anna had heart so big but her smile was even bigger. She touched everyone around her. She was so warm, loving and the kindest woman you could ever meet with a heart of gold. Especially at Christmas time when she and her husband Mario would decorate their entire house with Christmas lights, not leaving a single space unlit. Every year, Anna’s husband Mario would dress as Santa and all the neighborhood children would come over and tell Santa what they wanted. Together Anna and Santa would give out tons and tons of toys along with hot chocolate. While Anna was alive it was a tradition that their neighborhood enjoyed and looked forward to each and every year.

Anna was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 and passed away in 2009 at the age of 60 leaving behind a family whose hearts she is always in.


Eleanor Howarth Wilcox - 2012's Honoree

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 4.56.34 PMThe 2012 Boston Bakes honoree is Eleanor Howarth Wilcox.

Eleanor was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1979, a time when the disease was much

less in the public eye. Originally from Saugus, MA, she attended Eastern Nazarene
College in Quincy, MA.

Cape Cod became her home soon after she was married in 1941, and she went on to raise
three children. During the years that Eleanor lived on the Cape she studied the harp at the Cape Cod Conservatory, was an active member of the Osterville Baptist Church, and was the curator of the Osterville Historical Society for a number of years. Her connection to her community was constant.

The battle against breast cancer did not begin for Eleanor until she was 65 years old. She fought the disease for ten years and died in 1989 when she was 75. Her life was full of love and she devoted herself to her family.

We learned the life and story of Eleanor from her granddaughter, Heidi Parent. Along with her husband, Ian and Heidi Parent run a café on Cape Cod. La Petit France Café can be found on Main Street in Hyannis. 2012 will be the forth year that La Petite France is a Boston Bakes participant.

Each year Heidi and La Petite France Café have chosen a loved one from their own community who has been affected by breast cancer to honor and recognize. 2009 was dedicated to Eleanor with her lemon poppy-seed sugar cookies. Heidi’s effort to spread awareness through her community has helped Boston Bakes to grow on a new level.

Today, the Cape has become an area of interest, where the rate of breast cancer is the highest in the state and 20% higher than the national average. Heidi and La Petite France Café have done amazing work creating awareness for a disease that affects so many in their community.

Heidi remembers her grandmother as a great cook and baker who loved to make breads and candy, fudge, jams and jelly. The joy of baking and the concern for a better future has brought Boston Bakes together with La Petite France Café. We are happy to recognize two very special women, Heidi Parent and her grandmother Eleanor.

Boston Bakes 2012 is dedicated to the memory of Eleanor Howarth Wilcox, which lives on through those who knew and loved her.


Colleen O’ Farrell - 2011's Honoree

colleen 2edit

This year’s honoree is Colleen O’ Farrell.  It was Kim Carrigan, our spokesperson and anchor at Fox 25 Morning News, who first brought us the news of Colleen’s struggle.  Kim has been a supporter of Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer for many years and so has the entire team at Fox 25.  News of Colleen first came to us at a kick-off celebration being held at Finale for Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer 2008. We were celebrating Executive Pastry Chef Nicole Coady, her mother and her late grandmother, when we learned the story.

Kim shared with us that breast cancer had touched our very good friends at Fox 25. They were deeply affected and heartbroken that one of their own “family” members was fighting the disease.

Every year, during the week of Boston Bakes For Breast Cancer, the Fox 25 Dedham studio recorded a promotional segment for us. And we would see and work with Colleen O’Farrell, who was the floor director for the Fox 25 Morning News.

It seemed that in 2007, at the age of 36, Colleen was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. At the time that we learned of her illness, she had already been struggling for over a year and for the next two years continued to fight.  Unfortunately, in early 2010, Colleen lost the her final battle, leaving behind her husband Pete and two young children.

Last year was the first year we did our Boston Bakes segment at the Fox studio that Colleen was not present. Being at the studio you could feel the loss.  But Colleen was in everyone thoughts.

It is only fitting that we dedicate Boston Bakes 2011 to the memory of Colleen O’Farrell-a special young woman who touched the hearts of all she knew, including ours.


Past Honorees 2005-2010 - 2005's Honoree

In 2010, Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer was dedicated to the memory of Patsy Nasson, mother of Pastry Chef and Owner of the Mediterranean, Leslie Hewson.

Boston Bakes 2009 was dedicated to breast cancer survivor and 92 year- old grandmother of Tim Fonseca, Executive Pastry Chef Four Seasons Boston Hotel.
Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer 2008 was dedicated to breast cancer survivor’s Dianna Ryan and Lucille Messenger, mother and grandmother of Finale’s Executive Pastry Chef, Nicole Coady.

In 2007, Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer was dedicated to the memory of Wendy English, sister of our friend and Boston Bakes participant, Todd English. Wendy lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 42.

In 2005, the first honoree became Mary Klein, Stacy’s mother. What a memorable year Boston Bakes 2005 was! And what a pleasure it was to work with Stacy and hear the stories about her mom.