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.”