Arbella Insurance staff go “pink” for Dana-Farber

When one of their own was diagnosed with breast cancer, Arbella Insurance Group employees rallied together for a “Pink Day” to raise funds for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Although Dot Olson—the day’s original inspiration, who was successfully treated at Dana-Farber—has retired, Arbella’s support of the Institute has only grown since the inaugural Pink Day in 2009.

Now in its 11th year, Pink Day brings together employees from across the company to wear pink, contribute to and participate in gift basket drawings, purchase Dana-Farber gear, and donate to dress casually at work. The event has contributed more than $362,000 to Dana-Farber in total, including $20,000 raised by staff in 2019, which was generously matched by the Arbella Insurance Foundation.

“It is truly moving to see our employees rally around a cause that impacts so many, not only in the Arbella family, but across our New England communities,” says John Donohue, chairman, president, and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group and chairman and president of the Arbella Insurance Foundation. Funds raised by the Arbella family support Dana-Farber’s Mammography Van, the only mobile digital mammography program in Massachusetts, providing breast cancer screening and education to eligible women in medically underserved communities. Pink Day also supports Dana-Farber’s Blum Family Resource Center Van, which provides cancer prevention education and skin cancer screening in communities throughout Massachusetts.

This year, the Arbella community at Pink Day heard from a fellow cancer screening advocate named Erin O’Malley. Erin was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer—which accounts for 15 percent of all breast cancer cases—in May 2018 after identifying a lump during a self-exam. She was successfully treated at Dana-Farber, and has since shared her story with countless women at Dana-Farber’s Yawkey Center for Cancer Care and at events like Pink Day and the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance Foundation. She has also told her story to thousands in Boston through her work as an on-air DJ for Mix 104.1.

“I made the decision to share my fight against cancer with my listeners, including sharing photos of myself during treatment,” Erin says. Many of those photos include Erin in a full Wonder Woman costume—complete with cape and shield—an outfit she wore during all eight rounds of chemotherapy.

“I found that the costume not only inspired me to be strong, but gave strength to the other brave women in the infusion room, too,” she says. “The cape represented hope and healing, and we formed a community of strength and perseverance.”

True to form, Erin sported her Wonder Woman outfit while sharing her story at Arbella’s Pink Day, one of the only people in the room not wearing pink. “It may seem odd to say it, but going to Dana-Farber was both mentally and physically the best thing that could have happened to me,” she says. Now one-year cancer-free, Erin is determined to spread her story, inspire others to follow screening and prevention guidelines, and help all women laugh and smile during their own treatment.

“If sharing my story helps one woman check herself, that means everything to me,” Erin says. “I am determined to make this experience a positive one.”

Shannon Watterson
Assistant Director, Philanthropy Communications