24 October 2012

Foligno Preaches Action During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

When it comes to breast cancer, Chicago Wolves assistant coach Mike Foligno isn’t looking for sympathy. He’s looking for action.

foligno janis400Janis FolignoJanis Foligno, Mike’s wife and the beloved mother of their four children, died on July 27, 2009, from breast cancer. Janis fought the disease for five years and, according to Mike, had it licked at one point.

With the Chicago Wolves organization pouring all of its efforts into Breast Cancer Awareness Night on Saturday at Allstate Arena --- the team is selling autographed pink sticks, “Stick it 2 Breast Cancer” T-shirts, and autographed pink pucks to raise money for A Silver Lining Foundation and Chicago Wolves Charities --- the ever-optimistic Foligno feels it’s his opportunity to speak up and inspire others.

“Having gone through it, you know what people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer are going through,” Foligno said. “You also know that there is a lot of hope. People should always remain positive in these situations. There’s so much that has been done since (Janis passed). So many more medicines and so many more treatments --- different types and different ways. There’s more and more people being cured, or their life is extended. That’s something we’re glad to see. We hope that someday we can definitely find a cure for cancer.”

Breast Cancer Awareness Night: How You Can Help

"Stick It To Breast Cancer" t-shirts will be available at the game for a $20 donation or can be purchased by calling 1-800-THE-WOLVES. In addition to the T-shirt campaign, Wolves players will use special pink sticks during warmups on Saturday. Each stick will be autographed by several players and will be available for a $150 donation, the cost of a mammogram for those who can't afford one. A special thanks to Heidenhain for agreeing to match every $150 donation made in order to ensure more women have the opportunity to receive mammograms. Fans will also have the opportunity to purchase autographed, pink "Stick It To Breast Cancer" pucks for a $10 donation.

The Folignos have raised more than $150,000 in the last three years for the Janis Foligno Foundation, which funds the battle against cancer.

“We try to keep her spirit alive and well way beyond her death,” he said. “This is one way we felt, as a family, that we could do it and to help others that may be stricken by cancer, or others that are just in need. You know, my wife was a big proponent of helping others. She was a driver for Meals on Wheels and helping people out in other ways. I think that generosity and that care for other people is extended to us as a family, where we feel we are obliged to help others.”

Mike and Janis, who were married for 27 years, met in high school in their hometown of Sudbury, Ontario. Mike likes to joke that she chased him around until he caught her. He wonders earnestly whether her life could have been spared if she had been diagnosed a little sooner.

“Or, maybe, if she knew more about breast cancer at that time, it was something that maybe could have been caught in the early stages and treated differently or gotten rid of,” Foligno said. “Awareness is No. 1. That’s what this month is all about. Making sure women, especially, are aware about getting the testing done. And not being afraid to do it.

“Janis was pretty well getting tested every couple of years. It’s kind of in her family as her mother had a touch of it early on. Her mother’s still alive today. She was treated and this is probably going back 20-25 years ago. She’s still living and still doing well. There is hope when you find something and you get ahold of it early enough. All the more reason to be tested and not be afraid to get out there and do it --- and not have any excuses. Get it done. It’s a few minutes that can save a life. That’s my biggest message to all the people out there, not just women.”