Mass. FF who survived cancer honored by New England Patriots Foundation
Wellesley Firefighter Joanie Cullinan was awarded for her contributions to raising awareness about occupational cancer; the organization she volunteers with received a $5,000 donation from the foundation
Wicked Local Metro, Needham, Mass.
WELLESLEY, Mass. — After Joanie Cullinan was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma at age 37, she had to give up almost all of her duties as a Wellesley firefighter while she underwent treatment. But that didn't stop her from working to help others.
Cullinan, of Watertown, not only survived, but returned to her job last month after more than 18 months away. There she was greeted by her co-workers with a surprise parade. Now, she is being honored by the New England Patriots Foundation with their "Difference Maker of the Week" award, in recognition her work raising awareness for occupational cancers and promoting early detection.
"Joanie's tireless work to help others by sharing her own experience with cancer and advocating for early detection makes her the perfect recipient for this award. Congratulations!" said Marjorie Freiman, Wellesley Board of Selectmen chair, in the town's announcement of the honor.
Cullinan volunteered with 15-40 Connection, an organization focused on teaching people how to detect cancer early, advocate for themselves, and work with doctors to get the best outcomes.
"Joanie is an unbelievably enthusiastic advocate and a tremendous human being. Her recognition is so well deserved," said Joyce O'Connor Davidson, 15-40 Connection Vice President for Communications & Engagement. "While some people might have retreated into themselves after a cancer diagnosis, Joanie looked for a way to continue to help others. The $5,000 donation we are receiving will go toward the education we deliver for free in fire departments, to young adults in schools, and to community organizations."
In-person recognition for the award winners is currently on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, Cullinan's achievements are highlighted on the New England Patriots website, and the Town of Wellesley website.
One person who needs no reminders of Cullinan's contributions is her boss. "Our firefighter family is so proud of Joanie and her outstanding work," said Fire Chief Rick DeLorie. "We're glad she's healthy and back with us."
(c)2020 Wicked Local Metro, Needham, Mass.