Meet Marie! | Stamford Moms

How many kids do you each have and what are their ages?
I have two kids. My daughter is 8.5 and my son is 8.

What are your favorite family activities in Stamford?
There are so many great family activities in Stamford. A few of my favorites are going to the Stamford Nature Center, going to the Ferguson Library on Fridays to check out a movie for family night, going to Cove for a walk or bike ride, and at this time of the year helium balloon parade in downtown Stamford. That’s always a treat.

What do you like about living in Stamford?
I like that Stamford is so accessible to everything. If you want to eat by the water, you have Harbor Point. If you want to see beautiful foliage, you have the parks. And if you want some night life for a fun date night or mommy outing, you go downtown. It’s all there at your fingertips.

Tell us about One Tough Cookie.
One Tough Cookie is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that I founded in December 2019. Its mission is to provide support and encouragement to patients and caregivers, Tough Cookies, who have been touched by cancer. Our vision is to brighten their day and provide a positive escape during a difficult time. We do this with care bags, our website and events. The care bags include curated products and our website hosts a Pick-Me-up corner that has games, music, comedy, audio books and more. These are all resources I found helpful during my journey.

How did your own battle with Stage 2 invasive breast cancer inspire you to start the organization?
My battle with cancer was scary. My babies were 2.5 and 2 years old at the time. My husband traveled frequently at the time and I didn’t have many friends or family close by in Stamford. So when I got my diagnosis through the phone, I completely froze. I felt so alone and afraid even though I knew I had the most supportive husband by my side. The day came for my first chemo infusion. I remember sitting in that treatment chair and thinking,“Did I hug my babies strong enough? Did I give them enough kisses? Do they know I love them?” Again I felt scared and alone. Cancer has a way of making you feel that way. Then out of the blue I got a text from a family member that included an inspirational quote. A few seconds after I got a funny image sent to me by a friend. After that someone sent me the best Rocky movie song “The Eye of the Tiger.” How can you not love that song? I digress. Throughout the whole day I got message upon message helping me escape from the fact that I was receiving chemotherapy through an IV in my arm. All of this was followed with meal trains and family and friends, from all over, scheduling babysitting and more. I had never seen anything like it. When I started getting better, by 2019 I had this huge urge to pay forward all the support that I had during an extremely dark time in my life. That is when I was inspired to start One Tough Cookie. It’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

What do you hope to provide to those battling cancer?
I know that I don’t have the cure for cancer. God knows I wish I did. But what I do have is the chance to brighten someone’s day. To listen and help find resources that sometimes can get lost through overwhelming web search results. To provide a positive distraction during a scary time and to introduce them to a community that is rooting for them and coming together to help in anyway possible.

How can members of the community get involved?
We welcome members of the community to get involved by:
– Providing content for our website.
– Sharing your own cancer journey, patient or caregiver, with a writeup for our blog.
– Recording yourself reading a children’s book (Dr, Seuss, Pete The Cat, etc..) for our Pick-Me-Up corner. Now that we are partnering with children hospitals, we want to create a Story time corner where kids, teachers, parents, etc, are reading to kids that are sick (little tough cookies). They could even make it more fun by acting it out with puppets or whatever they can come up with.
– Hosting a virtual BINGO event (you invite the people and we take care of the rest). Money raised helps with the purchase of the items included in the care packages.
– Signing up to help pack or deliver care bags.
– Help create awareness by liking and sharing our facebook and instagram posts (@supportonetoughcookie).
– Create no-sew blankets for the Tough Cookies.

How do you juggle work and mommyhood?
Now that the kids are back in school full time, I’ve set a schedule for myself. I start working as soon as I come home from dropping them off and then I try, keyword try, to clock out once I pick them up.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
The best advice that I’ve gotten from another mom is to take time for “self-love”. Your body and peace of mind will thank you for it.

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