Passing the torch of a family legacy

People from surrounding communities gathered at Devereux Beach on Sunday, Oct. 8, for the 18th annual Breast Friends Walk. All funds raised benefit breast cancer patients of Mass General Hospital’s Chelsea Healthcare Center. Melrose High School senior Emily Lucien is entering her third year as the walk’s organizer and is ready for a family member to take on the mantle next.

Emily Lucien first got involved in the Breast Friends Walk eight years ago through her cousin, Grace Elmer. However, the cause became all the more important when her mother, Elizabeth, was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in Aug. 2018.

“It was pretty severe, and it started to spread pretty fast,” Emily Lucien said. “She was getting treatment, going through chemo, and doing everything she possibly could.”

Elizabeth Lucien passed away in Feb. 2019. The Lynnfield High School Class of 1989 member was a track captain and a member of the National Honor Society. Emily Lucien credits the support she received from her own community and loved ones when her mother was battling cancer as one driving force for her dedication to raising money and giving back through the walk.

“I was able to recognize how fortunate I was in that situation where my community was overly generous. And I know there’s communities where people aren’t as fortunate in that way,” Emily Lucien said. “Just being able to help them by providing services when they don’t have the money or resources for it, they can receive service through a Breast Friends donation and hopefully help either prevent or save their lives from breast cancer.”

As Emily Lucien prepares to start her collegiate journey next year, she is handing off the responsibilities as the organizer of the walk to her younger cousin and Lynnfield High School sophomore Rocco Scenna. Growing up, Rocco Scenna participated in the walk alongside Emily Lucien and other family members. He has recruited friends and soccer teammates to partake as well. He explained how important this cause is to him as he grew up having a close relationship with his aunt.

“Ever since I was young, we would see each other,” Rocco Scenna said. “She would drive me places. She was really funny and was always joking around with me. I was close with her right until the end.”

Some of Emily Lucien’s responsibilities as organizer include contacting businesses for sponsorships, social media outreach, and coordinating with Mass General and the town of Marblehead. However, Rocco Scenna is confident he is ready to follow in his older cousin’s footsteps.

“It’s a lot of work, but I think I’m ready to take it over,” Rocco Scenna said. “It’s going to be something that I look forward to.”

He emphasized that he will need to receive a lot of support and assistance from his parents. Scenna’s mother, Rebecca, is the sister of Elizabeth Lucien. She recapped this year’s walk as another successful endeavor that has raised more than $50,000 through the support of communities like Lynnfield, Marblehead, and Melrose. She reflected on the life her sister led and credits the type of person she was for what has led to so much support from people in the years beyond her passing.

“She left her mark on everyone she met,” Rebecca Scenna said. “Even when she was going through her treatments and was hospitalized at Brigham and Women’s, she took the time to get to know all of her nurses and doctors personally. She just cared about people, and I think that’s why so many people come to the walk and donate.”

The Breast Friends Walk is an extension of the Breast Friends Foundation, which was founded by Marblehead’s Sara Bryant in 2006 before she lost her battle with breast cancer in 2009.