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Release Date: 11/25/2019

(Providence, RI) –Stories of hope and healing from three local women will be highlighted in the coming weeks as part of a Care New England Health System storytelling campaign that will be told through both traditional advertising and social media.

At a time of year where many are reflecting on an attitude of thanksgiving and appreciation, the women, Gardenia Pena, of Cranston; Vivian Nano, of Providence; and Robin Furcolo, of Westerly, have graciously and candidly shared their stories. They range from cancer and high-risk pregnancy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression, and how with the support of CNE' Women & Infants Hospital, The Providence Center, and Butler Hospital, they are living healthy, productive, and rich lives.

Cranston resident Gardenia Pena, a mother of four, was three months pregnant, when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. “In a moment, our joy turned to fear. I was so scared for not just myself, but for our baby,” said Gardenia. Being pregnant with cancer adds an extra level of complication and risk to treatment, but the doctors at Women & Infants Hospital gave her hope. “They told me, ‘you are not alone, and we will get through this together,’” Gardenia said.

On October 23, Gardenia gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She is now ready to start the next round of chemotherapy at Women & Infants, where she knows she is in the best hands. “Women & Infants was my lifeline to healing, coping and hope,” she added.

Vivian Nano of Providence also has a lot to be grateful for. In 2004, a bomb exploded outside of Vivian’s home in Baghdad, Iraq, killing her husband and his entire family. Buried alive for days beneath rubble, Vivian’s face was shattered, and she had numerous broken bones, while she laid motionless, losing hope. Vivian’s injuries required her to undergo 12 surgeries in various countries including Iraq, Jordan, and the United States.

Eleven years ago, suffering with depression and PTSD, Vivian moved halfway across the world to Providence, RI, as a refugee. It was the first time, she said, she felt an inkling of hope, after working with staff at The Providence Center, who helped her with her PTSD, her overall health and well-being, as well as her education.

“It has been a long journey, but the staff I worked with at The Providence Center was always there for me. They got me through one of the toughest times in my life,” said Vivian, now proud to have a new job, new friends, and loves her Rhode Island community and home.

Over the course of her life, Robin Furcolo of Westerly has been admitted to Butler Hospital approximately 27 times for depression, after losing her sister to suicide in 1989, and then experiencing domestic violence within her marriage. Depression, Robin says, is something that runs in her family. She lost her sister, uncle and a cousin, all from suicide. And for years, Robin has struggled with her own suicidal thoughts and attempts.

“It just got to the point one day that I wanted to end my life. I didn’t think about anything else – just ending the pain, the depression. I overdosed on my medication, got in my car, and drove as fast as I could down the street and crashed, head-on, into a tree – on purpose,” said Robin.

“Thank goodness the people at Butler Hospital didn’t give up on me. Everybody there is warm and very caring. When I drive through the main entrance of the hospital, I get a sense of calm – I’ve arrived at my safe haven. This is the healthiest I have felt in a long, long time.”

Said James E. Fanale, MD, president and CEO, CNE, “I would like to express my appreciation to all three women for their words of hope and healing. It is my most sincere hope that these patient stories can provide comfort and encouragement for many throughout this holiday season and in the new year to come. Whether there is someone who is need of complex care or improved access to an array of services, CNE stands ready to help our community.”

Should you need assistance, CNE can help with recommending providers and making appointments, by calling the Care New England Referral Line at (401) 736-4257.

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