The 3 Breastketeers raise funds for Elk County breast cancer patients

 FORT SMITH – For the past couple of years, “The 3 Breastketeers” have been dedicated to raising funds for Elk County patients battling breast cancer, while also spreading awareness.

Darlene Eckert of St. Marys, who works at CenClear, said she grew up with Mary Zuchelli of Treasure Lake, a nurse at Penn Highlands Healthcare, and the late Chris Rieder of St. Marys.

The three went to high school together and remained friends over the years, and were all diagnosed with breast cancer within a couple months of each other in 2018, hence “The 3 Breastketeers,” Eckert said.

Eckert’s cancer was stage one, Zuchelli stage two and Rieder, stage three. It spread to her brain, and she has been gone a year in June. The group still does everything in her memory, keeping the “3” in the name.

The Breastketeers raise funds and purchase gift cards, which are given to the chemo and radiation departments at Hahne Cancer Center, then distributed to Elk County patients. Eckert said they also respond to requests when people contact them, sending gas cards via mail.

Eckert says they also promote education and awareness, encouraging women to get mammograms regularly. Speaking from her own story, she wouldn’t have known about her cancer without one.

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