In 2014, Debra Santulli-Barone ’06 was diagnosed with breast cancer. The brave woman did not see her diagnosis as a deterrent, however, and she quickly joined forces with another patient, not to complain, but to entertain!
While attending the Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) Northwell breast cancer support group, Santulli-Barone met Dr. Charley Ferrer, another individual with breast cancer, who also shared her dream of creating cable television shows on the subject of cancer.
“We became friends quickly since she and I had some things in common. Charley had a dream of doing CTV shows on cancer. The funny thing is I thought of that in 2014, but didn’t have the energy to do it alone. Soon, we were planning a show,” recalls Santulli-Barone.
The Community Television (CTV) Cancer Tamer talk show debuted in June 2016. With Dr. Ferrer as executive director and producer, and Santulli-Barone as segment producer of “Did You Know…,” an informative portion of the Cancer Tamer talk show featuring relevant professionals and roundtable discussions.
The show airs every Thursday at 9:00pm on Channel 34 (CTV), as well as in Manhattan on channels 34 and 54 on Tuesdays at 10:30am, and is set to air in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. The team is also planning a comedy fundraiser at Gotham Comedy Club slated for June 28, 2017.
“Who knew that a few courses at CSI years ago on film and video, would lead me to this?” exclaimed Santulli-Barone, a Huguenot resident, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Corporate Communications and minoring in Journalism and Business. She is also a member of the Eta Lambda Chapter of Phi Beta Delta (Society for International Scholars) at CSI.
Created by Dr. Ferrer, Cancer Tamer is a not-for-profit organization providing education and inspiration to people diagnosed with breast cancer and other cancers. They provide such things as lymphedema pillows to help reduce pain after surgery and body love workshops to help women reclaim their sense of self.
“Dr. Charley Ferrer reached out to the community and obtained free shampoos for women who recently had surgery and since they cannot lift their arms to wash their own hair, free oil changes for Cancer Tamer members, free memberships to Thrive online grocery stores, and much more,” notes Santulli-Barone.
In 2015, Santulli-Barone was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia and has recently started the remission process.
“It was totally a shock, but I am here to celebrate that I have been breast cancer free for two years. Due to my illnesses, I do a lot of research, read books, and educate cancer survivors and people that have not been diagnosed. There are things we should all know but didn’t until cancer knocked on my door—things our doctors didn’t tell us either. Advocating for myself has helped me and saved my life,” said Santulli-Barone, who also delivers public service announcements with Dr. Ferrer on CSI’s WSIA radio station (88.9 FM).
“I would love to have others at our College, as well as alumni, know that we are out there trying to help others—mainly, to just relate our stories and what we learned, what we should have known, and what you can do on your own to live a healthier life,” urged Santulli-Barone, adding that things like stress and poor diet can have a huge effect on one’s health.
“There is so much more we want to share with our community and want to continue sharing to create awareness and more positive support networks,” noted Santulli-Barone, who has two sons, Stefan and Jordan, founders of the record label, “Red Planet Records LLC.” She also is co-founder with her son Stefan, of his anti-bully support group, “Play It Forward NY.”
She also founded and coordinates the Holiday Hospitality Dining Registry, a program through the Center for Global Engagement. Santulli-Barone helps to sign up international students for Thanksgiving dinners she or other faculty members host in their homes.
For more information about Santulli-Barone and Dr. Ferrer’s work, and to view past shows and find ticket information for the comedy show and future events, visit the Cancer Tamer Website.