Pictures from United Way Day of Caring on May 11, 2011.
The Painting Crew at Great Bay Services in Newington, NH!
Here's a great article from Portsmouth Herald featuring our very own Erica Kinney 4/6/2011
Cancer crusader shares story
Link to article
Survivor, an amputee, offers insight and a positive
attitude to sick children
Erica Kinney survived bone cancer as a child and had her leg
amputated after battling a persistent infection. She now visits Children's
Hospital Boston to talk with children facing bone cancer.Ioanna
PORTSMOUTH "You can't let life keep you from living" is
the motto Erica Kinney lives by, and it shines through her bright personality,
determination and positivity.
When she was 11 years old, the Portsmouth resident, who is
32 years old today, was diagnosed with bone cancer. Fourteen years later, after
having a bone transplant and subsequent knee replacement, and battling
reccurring infections, her leg was amputated.
About the disease
Osteogenic sarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer
among children, adolescents and young adults. The disease usually occurs in the
long bones in arms or legs. The cancer cells can also spread to other parts of
the body, most commonly the lungs. Symptoms vary, but can include pain, swelling
and/or redness at the site of the tumor. Treatment can include surgery,
amputation, chemotherapy and more.
Fighting the disease: For the past 15 years, Erica Kinney
and her mother, Sandy Berkenbush, have organized Cruise for a Cure, a dinner
cruise on the Prince of Whales in Newburyport, Mass. It's raised more than
$200,000 to support the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Cancer Research at the
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. A date for this year's cruise has not yet been
set, but updates can be followed at www.sandyberkenbush.com.
"You have to make sure you have the things that make you
happy and put forth the effort to have a quality life and keep living," said
Kinney, who now travels to Boston a few times a year to speak with patients
going through similar experiences.
She also works in business development for Key Auto
"It's important for people to know their experiences in
life have made them who they are and that they shouldn't be ashamed of those
experiences, but use them in a way to help others."
It was during one of her family's routine Sunday walks that
Kinney, who grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts, told her mother about
pain in her right leg, which she described as "a toothache in my leg."
Doctors found a crack stretching up the 11-year-old's tibia
toward her knee, and she was subsequently diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma ? a
form of bone cancer. The disease is the most common type of bone cancer among
children, adolescents and young adults, and usually occurs in long bones like
the femur or tibia.
The cancer cells can metastasize to other areas of the
body, most commonly the lungs, but Kinney said hers was caught early and had not
spread. At the time, she underwent an experimental protocol that led to 22
rounds of chemotherapy and the bone transplant. She was chosen for the treatment
randomly by a computer, and though she wasn't pleased with the decision being
made for her as a child, Kinney said she'd have made the same decision as an
On Feb. 7, 1991, Kinney underwent the transplant, receiving
the bone of an 18-year-old who died in a car accident. The bone was sent from a
Jacksonville, Fla., bone bank.
Two weeks later, Kinney was the maid of honor in her
grandparents' wedding, with a pink cast to match her dress.
The anniversary of Kinney's remission, and the last day of
her chemotherapy treatments, is St. Patrick's Day 1992. Though she undergoes
routine checkups, the risk of Kinney's cancer returning was highest for about a
year after her treatments were finished.
But the cancer hasn't been Kinney's only challenge. Years
after she went into remission, in 1999, Kinney had a knee replacement after
cartilage wore away and bone fragments were breaking. The following summer, the
then 21-year-old, who loves to travel, backpacked through Europe.
It was two weeks before her graduation from Johnson &
Wales University in North Carolina that Kinney developed a staph infection in
her donor bone. For two years, she fought it with antibiotics before convincing
her family and doctor that amputation was the better treatment.
"I wasn't going to live my life on antibiotics," she said.
"I felt that my leg was only holding me back, and I wasn't going to live a long
and healthy life with it. I wanted to be free to live my life and not be
confined or defined by an illness."
Before her amputation, at the age of 25, Kinney met with
two amputees who shared their stories and answered her questions.
"It was great to see that example, that life could go on
and be normal," said Kinney, who was back up and moving quickly following the
operation. She traveled to Switzerland, where she was agile enough to ski.
"I'd already taught myself to walk two or three times, so
physical therapy wasn't anything new to me, nor was adapting to physical
limitations," she said.
Now, Kinney travels to Boston once or twice a year to visit
with patients, the majority of whom have bone cancer and are facing a bone
transplant, amputation or other procedure. She's connected with the patients
through her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Marc Gebhardt.
"I have such a positive attitude toward life; I'm not
negative and I am frank with my answers," she said.
Following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Kinney met
with an 18-year-old Brigham and Women's Hospital patient whose leg was amputated
because of an injury that occurred during the disaster and an infection that
followed. Recently, she met with an introverted 9-year-old girl from the island
country Grenada, who was diagnosed with bone cancer and beginning treatments.
After speaking, Kinney said the girl was asking questions like whether her
prosthetics were comfortable and what happened to Kinney's leg after her
amputation ? it was cremated.
Kinney encourages children to ask questions and be honest
in their answers to their parents and doctors. For parents, she advises that
they remember, though their children are sick, they are still children and it's
important to teach them everyday lessons and give them everyday experiences.
"It gives them the opportunity to ask all the questions
that are in the back of their mind," Kinney said. "Obviously, I'm lucky enough
to still be here to do it, and I'm grateful for the opportunity. It really helps
to make an informed decision when you are able to speak with someone who's been
through it and you have the 20/20 perspective."
Auto Dealer Offers Discounts For Toy
PORTSMOUTH ? Employees at the Portsmouth Used
Car Superstore are rewarding customers who are in a giving mood with discount
The local dealership and service center is
currently offering service discounts for people who donate to Toys for Tots. The
program lasts until Dec. 15 and offers customers an oil change for $9.99 after
they donate a toy.
Brad Solomon, an employee at the store, said
the decision to take part in the holiday charity was made after reading about
the higher than normal demand Toys for Tots has experienced this year due to the
"Since we are an auto dealership with a
service department and a large sign out front, we figured we could certainly
make an impact in this department," Solomon said.
Solomon said his fellow employees have also
contributed toy donations.
He said the goal is to collect enough toys to
fill three separate vehicles that will be dropped off to the charity on Dec.
"Even if they do not want to purchase an oil
change, they are still more than welcome to bring in a toy for the drive,"