Kate Corrigan began writing songs at 16. First there were songs of love and, later, songs about her life and her children.
Now she's written a song about breast cancer.
Corrigan, 56, of Hicksville found a lump in her right breast in May 2008. A month later she learned the lump was malignant. The news came as she was grieving for her sister-in-law, who had died two weeks earlier of leukemia.
Two months later she underwent mastectomies to remove both breasts to decrease the risk the cancer would recur.
Inspiration for a song
In April she was preparing to play guitar accompaniment for a friend singing at "The Uplifting Event" held at Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Great Neck, where she had undergone breast reconstruction.
The event, sponsored by a group called the Sisterhood of Support to raise funds for cancer research, was a fashion show of bras and bathing suits modeled by mastectomy patients.
As she waited for the friend to arrive, she said, a new song came to mind - and she decided to perform it for the audience.
The response was "overwhelming," she said. So she decided to record the song, "We Believe," in a professional studio and sell it to raise funds for Bravehearts, an oncology camp that offers emotional and spiritual support to women with breast cancer, and for the American Cancer Society.
The song is available on iTunes (99 cents) and as a CD ($10, available from Corrigan at katecorrigansongs@gmail .com).
Getting past the fear
"I wrote this song, which is kind of an anthem for breast cancer survivors, because you have to believe you're going to be OK," Corrigan said.
"You live in fear" after the diagnosis, she said. "It's frightening, painful and extremely emotional."
But, she said, the experience turned out to have unexpected value: "It's also one of the best things that ever happened to me, because it showed me how blessed I am. It showed me how many people wanted to help me."
And, she said, getting the song produced "became a labor of love":
"Every musician on the song has a family member with breast cancer," she said. Her college roommate, whose mother had breast cancer, helped design the label, and "her sister helped design and print the label," Corrigan said. "Everyone donated their time."
Corrigan, who works as the business manager at a gynecologist's office in Little Neck, said since her diagnosis she's been especially impressed by the kindness not only of friends, but also of strangers.
One day after she learned she had breast cancer, "the nurse practitioner called me into the room," Corrigan said.
"The patient wanted to show me what a reconstructed breast with implants looks like so I wouldn't be so afraid. It was amazing to me that this woman would share such a personal thing with me."
Corrigan, who grew up in Bellerose, began playing guitar at 13 and, while she was a student at Stony Brook University, sang in wine and cheese cafes.
She recorded an album in the 1970s ("A New Plateau") and in the past decade two albums of Christian music ("Strength for the Journey" and "Now I am Home").
"Songs come pouring out of me," she said.
As for "We Believe," she said, "This song was fit for me. It said exactly what I wanted to say."