Cornegy hosts Gift of Life Day in Thompson’s memory

Council member urges residents to get colon cancer screenings

December 8, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Robert Cornegy Jr. (left) says the campaign will give residents the chance to get life-saving cancer screenings. He is pictured with Lu-Shawn Thompson, Eric Gonzalez and Gregory Calliste (left to right). Photo courtesy of Cornegy’s office
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Councilmember Robert Cornegy Jr. has found a unique way of paying tribute to the memory of the late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. Cornegy hosted a Gift of Life Day on Wednesday with Thompson’s widow Lu-Shawn Thompson to kick off a new campaign aimed at convincing Brooklyn residents to undergo lifesaving colon cancer screenings.

The Gift of Life event, which took place at Woodhull Medical Center at 760 Broadway in Bedford-Stuyvesant, was held in partnership with the New York City Department of Health (DOH).

The campaign will target all New Yorkers to help address colon cancer as a major public health issue, Cornegy said.

The kickoff was dedicated to Thompson, whose death from cancer sent shockwaves throughout New York City. Thompson, 50, a husband and father of two, announced his cancer diagnosis in October. He died just a week after the announcement.

“Ken’s life made a tremendous impact on the lives of Brooklynites and his death does not diminish that fact,” said Cornegy (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant). “Through the Gift of Life initiative, many people will be reminded of his example and with the support of their loved ones, they will have the opportunity to get lifesaving screenings in their neighborhood.”

The campaign will start at Woodhull Medical Center and will continue to Interfaith Medical Center and other health care providers throughout Brooklyn.

The initiative will make strong use of the power of relationships, according to Cornegy, who said people will be asked to encourage their loved ones to be screened.

Lu-Shawn Thompson said her late husband would have wanted New Yorkers to pay attention to their health. “My husband was a true leader,” she said. “Whether he was advocating for the wrongly convicted or prosecuting a dangerous predator, Kenny always did what was right and just. I know he would want to be a champion for combating this serious health issue and do all that he could to help.”

The Thompsons were married for 17 years.

The city is making inroads in combating colon cancer and DOH is working to increase the odds of survival, said Dr. Mary Bassett, the city’s health commissioner. If caught early, colon cancer has a 90 percent survival rate, she said.

In 2013, 1,329 New Yorkers died of colon cancer, according to the DOH website,

Bassett offered an example of the progress New York has made in recent years. “The city has successfully closed the gap in colon cancer screening rates across racial groups, a remarkable achievement,” she said.

But the work needs to expand, Bassett said. “We must now increase early screening rates across the board,” she said.

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez likened the fight against cancer to the fight against crime.

“In the DA’s Office, we know that early intervention and proactive monitoring keeps communities safe from crime. The same is true for early detection and treatment of this disease. We must do what we can to intercept this disease and protect the physical health of out community,” he said.

Health care providers are fully onboard with the Gift of Life program, according to Gregory Calliste, CEO of NYC Health & Hospitals/Woodhull. “Screenings should be a priority and we hope highlighting the disease this way will encourage community members to lead healthier lives,” he said.


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