Canandaigua, NY

Canandaigua Area Woman Finds Community Support During Cancer Fight

Genesee Valley Publications

It is a diagnosis one can never be prepared to receive. Cancer. Lives are changed and the fight begins. When surrounded by caring and generous people, however, one never needs to fight alone.

It was the last week in October. Jill Madden, a Canandaigua resident, began experiencing unusual pain in one of her breasts. Immediately, she scheduled a mammogram, and by November 15th, her doctor had determined Jill had cancer. She was quickly scheduled for lumpectomy, confident from what her surgeon assured her, that she would have a quick and relatively easy surgery and recovery. What happened next was anything but.

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Jill with her “Madden Zoo,” kids, grandsons and significant others on Thanksgiving 2021, a little more than a week after she was diagnosed.Genesee Valley Publications

In December, Jill’s surgery unexpectedly resulted in the removal of nine of her lymph nodes for biopsy, a drain, and not one but two incisions. Unfortunately, all of her lymph nodes were cancerous. Courtney Hand, Jill’s daughter, recalls her reaction. “This was terrifying and changed the outlook on things quite a bit, as you can imagine,” she said.

Courtney shared that by the time her mother met with her oncologist later in December, her mother had already started taking medication. Jill is currently awaiting the results of her PET scan to see if there is cancer anywhere else in her body, including her organs and bones, and afterwards, plans to talk with her doctor about a plan for chemo and radiation.

Jill Madden (Nunes) grew up in nearby Naples in the home her father built himself and which Jill’s son now owns. Learning generosity and hospitality from her parents at a young age, Jill has always opened her home and her heart to anyone and everyone. “She has done this my whole life,” said Courtney. “We always had tons of people coming over for meals: the more the merrier. My mom always put other first and tried to see the good in everyone. I am proud to call her my mom!”

When she moved to the Canandaigua area, Jill’s generosity continued. “One Saint Patrick’s Day, she passed out gift cards at a local coffee shop in honor of a friend’s son who had passed away,” shared Courtney. “Exactly one year ago, she was recruiting others to knit caps for cancer patients only to be diagnosed herself. When Covid-19 first started, she sewed and gave away about 1,500 face masks.” Jill has also participated in Dolls for Hope, started a Blessing Box on Meigs Street in Rochester, brought food to area homeless people, volunteered with her church’s youth to work on humanitarian projects, and taught painting classes to the youth. Last September, Jill also joined Courtney in organizing a successful fundraiser for cancer-fighting friend, Kaycee.

Family friend, Kaycee Beverly (Gleason), a Farmington transplant from Naples, was sadly diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in September 2021, just two months before Jill would receive her own cancer diagnosis. She has undergone, and will continue to undergo, surgery and chemo as she continues to fight her cancer. Immediately, Jill volunteered to join her fight.

“As soon as I told my mom, she said, ‘What does she need?’ and jumped into action,” said Courtney. Jill and Courtney made and collected numerous gift baskets to raffle off at Kaycee’s successful fundraiser. “Now they are going through this together, leaning on each other, sharing stories and experiences,” Courtney added.

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Jill Madden of CanandaiguaGenesee Valley Publications

Courtney reflected that the surgery has already taken a huge physical and mental toll on her mother, who has been out of work since mid-November. As she awaits further results, she continues to heal from her surgery. “She hates being a patient, and it’s no secret she’s a bad patient, too! Trust me, I know!” Courtney chuckled. Good humor aside, Courtney decided it was time to reach out to their community – a community Jill loves and serves – for help.

Courtney took to social media to share her mother’s story. “So far, I have had a lot of people reach out to see what they can do to help out with our fundraiser,” said Courtney. “A few have offered to donate raffle baskets, and others have offered items for the silent auction. Some have even offered to bring her meals. One neighbor even dropped off a huge prime rib!” Jill has also received several gifts, flowers, and other kindnesses in an attempt to keep her spirits up.

Jill, Courtney, and the rest of their family are deeply moved and grateful for this strong and heartfelt start. They invite the community to join them for Jill Madden’s fundraiser on February 6th at the Roseland Bowl in Canandaigua. (Tickets required.) Those wishing to help may also visit https://gofund.me/43ecc3bd.

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Article by Amanda Dudek // Genesee Valley Publications

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