Team of the Week

Team New Life

Honoring a co-worker’s positive energy and passion for life.

Carla Pyram and Tara Brunswick are co-workers at North Shore Long Island Jewish Medical Center (NSLIJ). Pyram was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. “I couldn't believe the news,” said Brunswick. “She was in her early 30s. It just didn't seem possible. I wanted badly to do something. I knew I couldn't take her pain away or make the diagnosis disappear, but I was looking for a way to help.

“Then I heard a commercial for the Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure. I immediately signed up!”

Brunswick wondered what to name the team, but then she recalled that a few weeks earlier, Carla, with nine of her friends and family members, all got tattoos in a demonstration of support. “She and I discussed the tattoo image,” said Brunswick. “It was a breast cancer ribbon transformed into a butterfly as a symbol of new life.

Carol's Crew

Team New Life's 2012 Race t-shirt.

“I was so inspired by Carla’s spirit – she embraced life with such a fierceness,” continued Brunswick. “Despite the terrible diagnosis, she was filled with such positive energy and passion.” New Life seemed like a perfect name for the team. “We all need to remember to take a look at our lives – to appreciate each day and savor the little things. We all take way too many things for granted.”

Team New Life was born with Brunswick as captain. During the four years between its inception and 2011, the team raised $27,349. Last year, it had 26 members; this year, 21. So far, it has raised $2,135.

The team is made up of coworkers from NSLIJ – doctors, nurse, social workers, receptionists, physical therapists and physician assistants. Other members include Carla’s friends and family members. Each year, the team has custom t-shirts designed by one of its members, a graphic artist.

All team members have been impacted by their friend Carla’s diagnosis and subsequent battle with breast cancer. After two years in remission, her cancer returned this year – in her bones. “It serves as a reminder, “ said Brunswick, “that we have to continue to fight breast cancer and support organizations like Komen, which have a direct effect on funding education, screening, treatment and support services.

“It really is amazing what a group of people can do when they join together for a cause!” Brunswick recruits members at the hospital by putting up Race posters. Individual team members use social media by posting their participation on Facebook and sending emails not only to recruit members, but also raise funds. The team has also used bake sales as a fundraising tool.

When asked about a favorite Race memory, Brunswick recalled the team’s first year, when it received an award for being the largest hospital team from Sex and the City star, Cynthia Nixon. “It was really exciting; I couldn't believe it that we were on the stage receiving an award from a celebrity!” she exclaimed.

Brunswick also asked Carla about her favorite Race memory.

She had two:

  • The first year, she was just happy to be at the Race surrounded by all the peopled she loved.
  • In 2010, the team had a hectic start to Race Day, because its usual meeting spot &ndask; the museum stairs – were under construction. It prevented the team from getting together before the Race started. “We assumed one of our co-workers had never made it. We had joked with him that week that he would never really come,” described Pyram. “Then, in the middle of the walk surrounded by thousands of strangers I spotted him walking with his son. They had arrived late…but they were there! I couldn't believe it. He proved us all wrong. To actually see him was amazing to me.”

Pyram summed up her Race experience, saying “Over the last several years I have been so touched by all the outpouring of support from so many people in my life.”