A little rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of an enthusiastic group of breast cancer patients and their family members who gathered at Dr. John Kehoe’s Bay Ridge clinic on Oct. 13 to celebrate their journeys and successes during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“We’ve always done something special for Breast Cancer Awareness Month starting 10 years ago,” Kehoe said.
Although the pandemic did cause a crimp in that timeline, Kehoe’s celebration came back this year with renewed vigor.
Five artful, semi-nude black and white portraits of patients were featured prominently in the center of the clinic’s pink-clad waiting room, taken in the clinic during their fight with breast cancer.
Dinamaria Maggiore, originally from Bensonhurst, was one of Kehoe’s celebrated patients.
“I’ve actually been coming to Dr. Kehoe since I was 18-years-old,” said Maggiore, whose family has a history of breast cancer. Her mother was diagnosed, and her grandmother died because of it.
Maggiore has since married and moved to Staten Island to raise her two small daughters but continues to come to Kehoe’s clinic for checkups because of the bond she feels with him and the quality of care.
“I remember years ago at one of my appointments, there was a lady from Michigan in the waiting room,” added Maggiore. “She drove like 10 hours for a second opinion [from Kehoe].”
When asked why she was a featured patient at the event, Maggiore grinned.
“Interestingly enough, I was scrolling through Facebook one day, and I saw Dr. Kehoe’s podcast,” she said. In the episode, Kehoe discussed how breast cancer rates were rising as people delayed their screenings because of the pandemic.
“And I hadn’t gone for my screening in two years because I was so scared of the pandemic,” Maggiore continued. “So I said, ‘Let me stop and do this now because I’ll forget.'”
Maggiore, who was pregnant at the time, made an appointment for a scan. At her visit, she learned there was a lump in her left breast, and she underwent a biopsy that same day.
“Since then, it’s been such a rollercoaster,” she admitted. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
Maggiore, who was officially diagnosed with stage two breast cancer, continued her treatment with a partial mastectomy in July and begins her chemotherapy this week.
“Dr. Kehoe is worth [the commute],” said Maggiore. “He has a modern approach and a sensitivity to women.”
Kehoe, formerly an art history teacher, opened his art-adorned Bay Ridge clinic in 2019 but has been in practice for over 30 years.
“[Breast cancer] is a disease that we’ve made terrific progress with, to the point where it’s, for the most part, a survivable cancer,” said Kehoe. “So it’s been very gratifying in that sense.”
As the night wrapped up, another patient of Kehoe’s stopped to thank him before she left.
“What you do with this event every year… I cried. I felt every single moment of it,” she said, grasping his arm.
“When Dr. Kehoe moved here, I got a sign of hope because I live down the block,” she said emotionally. “I thought, ‘They really do care.'”
“A lot of people have gone through it with me,” Kehoe said, noting that he already has big plans for next October, and plans to invite the 3,000-plus breast cancer survivors from his practice to join him in celebrating their successes.