In 2016, Shawand Marquez’s world fell apart. First, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then her mother passed away a day before Marquez’s double mastectomy. Marquez’s wedding was a month later.
Marquez’s doctor recommended A World of Pink, a Long Island health facility that helps women recovering from breast cancer get the help they need. Christine Guarino, its lead mastectomy fitter, met with Marquez and fitted her with a prosthetic and a bra to wear at Marquez’s wedding.
“Christine was there for me every step of the way,” says Marquez, 38. “I wore the prosthetics and the bra, and it felt so good. I was able to walk down the aisle feeling confident.”
Marquez, who had all her expenses taken care of, is one of the 5,000 women that the nonprofit has supported since Guarino — a former dental hygienist who became a certified mastectomy fitter — purchased All Island Prosthetics and invested $1 million of her own money into the organization. She founded the group in 2016.
“I had an amazing dream … that I could help women all over the world,” says Guarino. “If you come in my door and your insurance company doesn’t cover something and you need it, you are getting it through my [nonprofit]. That is why people donate and give to the World of Pink Foundation and help raise money, because they see the results.”
Most insurance companies cover at least part of the cost of breast prosthesis, a specially designed artificial breast form that fits into a bra pocket. If a woman does not have insurance or only a percentage is covered and it is still a hardship for them to pay the difference, the World of Pink Foundation steps in.
This fall, Guarino is launching a new first-of-its-kind prosthetic. And this month brings the grand opening of her new 2,000-square-foot Melville location that will offer educational seminars, fundraising events and personalized fittings by appointment.
“My goal was to open the first aftercare center of its kind for women everywhere,” she says. “It’s like Victoria’s Secret on steroids. It’s beautiful.”
A World of Pink’s annual fashion gala is on Oct. 29. Tickets are $125. For more information visit aworldofpink.com or worldofpinkfoundation.org.