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Rocky Point cleaning service helps cancer patients

Teresa Ward, left, supervising her cleaning crew, helped

Teresa Ward, left, supervising her cleaning crew, helped found Cleaning for a Reason. The program provides free housecleaning for women battling cancer. Credit: Photo by Sam Levitan

Of all the many things on Lori's mind as she battles her second bout of breast cancer and recovers from a recent double mastectomy, the one thing the single mother from Port Jefferson doesn't have to worry about is housekeeping for at least a day - thanks to a program run by the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

Lori received a gift certificate for two hours of free housecleaning, donated by Teresa's Family Cleaning in Rocky Point.

"You're very limited when you come home in what you can do," said Lori, who didn't want her last name used because of her ongoing treatment. "Your general mobility, the strength in your upper body is all gone. I can't bend over and scrub the tub when I'm all stitched up."

The cleaning service is a much appreciated perk, Lori said. "It was really, really nice," she said, calling it assistance in a difficult time.

Business owner Teresa Ward, 52, said her firm has donated cleaning services in the past through the New York chapter of Cleaning for a Reason, which Ward helped found in 2005.

For the past four years, her company has donated its services to women fighting cancer, and this week helped out its 500th cancer patient.

When Ward started her business in 1993, she said she would see clients ailing at home. "It would break my heart," she said. "One patient would wait for her kids after school but couldn't even leave her bed."

When Dr. Brian O'Hea of the Stony Brook cancer center called to enlist her services for its Giving, Inspiration, Fighting Together, or GIFT, program, Ward said she didn't hesitate. She had lost her sister to lung cancer in 2003.

"I struggled with anger" after her sister's death, Ward said. "Why did this happen? Starting Cleaning for a Reason helped me release that feeling."

She knows that what should be minor chores can become overwhelming. "It's a great feeling for me and my crew to help out," Ward said. "We're going to continue working until they find a cure for cancer."

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