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Family to host tasting fundraiser to fight lung cancer

Date: 10/23/2014

SOUTHWICK – For the fourth year, one local family hosts a fall fundraiser to raise awareness of lung cancer in the hope of saving lives.

“Our mother, Marylin Liptak, was a nonsmoker yet she died of lung cancer,” said Amy Caruso of Southwick, during a recent late afternoon interview with Reminder Publications.

Caruso noted she and her family learned firsthand how to show empathy for anyone battling cancer. Caruso’s sister, Sharon Marcyoniak of Westfield, brother Dan Liptak of Southwick, and father Louis Liptak of Westfield, are all assisting her to ensure another successful event.

The Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Tasting, hosted by Tucker’s Restaurant on College Highway, is planned Dec. 2 from 6 to 8 p.m.

 “Our goal is to raise $5,000 for the Mercy Medical Center Sister Caritas Cancer Center,” said Marcyoniak, adding that Mercy’s staff “treated mom so well” that the family wanted to pay it forward by helping others battling cancer.

“We want to support people who have lung cancer,” said Caruso.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates approximately 224,210 new cases of lung cancer in 2014 (116,000 in men and 108,210 in women), with an estimated 159,260 deaths from lung cancer expected. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined, according to the ACS.

The ACS notes that overall, the chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about one in 13; for a woman, the risk is about one in 16, whether they were smokers or nonsmokers. Lung cancer in nonsmokers can be caused by exposure to radon, secondhand smoke, and air pollution, as well as workplace exposures to asbestos, diesel exhaust, or certain chemicals that can also cause cancer.

“Our mom was diagnosed in March 2010 and through her treatments she exercised and went back to work,” said Caruso. “She had a lot of support from family and co-workers.”

Marylin Liptak passed away at the age of 71 – one year after she was diagnosed.

Marcyoniak noted that lung cancer is known as a silent or hidden cancer, because you can’t feel a lump and it can be misdiagnosed.

“X-rays and cat scans can detect lung cancer but early detection is important so the cancer can be treatable,” she said.

Caruso and Marcyoniak encourage area residents to support the fundraiser which will help raise awareness and promote services available at Mercy’s cancer center.

In a 2010 Community Health Needs Assessment, an “astonishing need” for cancer services in the communities served by Mercy was noted. According to the assessment, by 2022 the need for outpatient cancer services will grow by 26 percent. At present, cancer accounts for 23 percent of deaths in our region, making it the second highest cause of mortality after heart disease.

In response to this data, Mercy recently launched a $15 million expansion of its cancer center which will feature 26,000 new square feet, 10 new infusion bays for a total of 32, the ability to care for 1,400 patients and provide 60,000 procedures annually.

“We hope through this event we can raise awareness that early detection is important as well as the need for more research funding that will ultimately help others in the future,” said Caruso.

Caruso is working with Rob Benoit of Southwick Package Discount Liquors to arrange for the wine distributors for the event.

“Expect white, red, sparkling and dessert wine varieties to taste,” Caruso said.

In addition, Cabot Cheese and The Butterfield Farm Company will provide an assortment of cheese for tasting, and the North Elm Butcher Block in Westfield will also donate food for the affair.

“Our mom was a good baker so we honor her by using her chocolate recipes for the fudge, cookies, and a sheet cake that will be served,” said Marcyoniak, adding that both she and Caruso will also have white ribbon pops available since white ribbons symbolize lung cancer.

Also, Tucker’s Restaurant will create a chocolate fountain with choices of pretzels, marshmallows, strawberries and pineapple for dipping.

Caruso and Anderson have been friends for years, noting they were once co-workers at MassMutual Financial Group.

“Karen is part of the family so having her host this event is perfect,” Caruso said.

Marcyoniak’s daughters, Elizabeth, 17, and Olivia, 12, will be assisting with a raffle that evening that includes gift certificates from Che Bella Salon, Anna’s Drycleaning, The Skin Salon and the Westfield Gas & Electric Company, as well as a holiday wreath from Coward’s Tree Farm.

Sponsors at press time include Jerome’s Party Plus, John Liptak, CPA, Sarat Ford Lincoln, Heritage Homes, Westfield Bank, Dr. Leo Stemp, Micro Abrasives Corporation, Roger Butler Insurance Agency, abc40Force, Chestnut Medical Associates, and The Republican/

Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at Tucker’s Restaurant or online at

If an individual or organization is interested in sponsoring or donating a raffle prize, contact Caruso at

“There is a lot of mingling during the fundraiser and people look forward to coming back to support an important cause,” said Caruso.