The North Fork Breast Health Coalition named its new stage 4 breast cancer research and support fund in honor of the late Aquebogue Elementary School kindergarten teacher Keri Lynn Stromski.  

Stromski died at age 48 on April 6 after a four-and-a-half year battle with breast cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 4 disease in November 2016 and became a vocal advocate for more funding for research into treatment of metastatic breast cancers, publishing a blog and posting almost daily on social media about treatments, clinical trials and living with the disease. 

The NFBHC announced the designation prior to the Riverhead girls lacrosse game on Thursday. Before the game, some of the players who had been taught by Stroski shared kind words about Stromski with the crowd. Stromski’s husband Rob and two daughters, Madison and Morgan, who attend Riverhead High School, were in attendance, along with Keri’s sister, Jill Kubetz. 

“I really appreciate the North Fork Breast Health Coalition for naming the fund after my wife,” Keri’s husband Rob Stromski said. 

“She was a big advocate for stage 4. And I believe that there needs to be more for stage 4,” Stromski said. “There’s a lot of people that are in that fight and still thriving, and they need help along the way. And it’s nice to have a local organization that gives back locally.”

The NFBHC has raised more than $22,000 for the “Keri Lynn Stromski Stage 4 Research and Grant Fund” so far. The fund will provide both financial support to research oncologists and assistance to stage 4 patients to help cover unexpected expenses.

“We’re pleased to be able to provide additional financial support and resources to patients on the North Fork and in the Riverhead area who are dealing with late-stage breast cancer diagnosis,”  NFBHC vice president Melanie McEvoy said. “This fund was just started in the spring.. and the reason we started this fund was because of Keri.”

During the lacrosse game, NFBHC raised more money for the fund by selling snacks at the concession stand and selling Riverhead lacrosse T-shirts that read “One Team, One Family” on the front, with Stromski’s initials and a breast cancer ribbon on the shoulder. A banner hung across the bleachers of the lacrosse field reading “We Are Stromski Strong.”

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. The American Cancer Society predicts that in 2021 about 281,550 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and about 43,600 women will die of breast cancer in the United States. 

You can learn more about breast cancer and donate to the NFBHC by visiting their website.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.