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Rock Out and Knock Out Cancer Fundraiser Raises over $12,000 for Breast Cancer and Cancer Research Funds

Band members from left to right: Dean Petrie, Jack Riggs, Mark Faupel, Karen Tortoriello and Jim Velordi. Band members not pictured: Randy Rich and Bob Jones.

Last month, locally renowned band Backflash! (Karen Tortoriello, Mark Faupel, Jimmy Velordi, Dean Petrie, Randy Rich, Bob Jones, and Jack Rigg) rocked the 'burbs for a cancer benefit at Oly's Tavern in Johns Creek. In addition to the music and comedy, there were prizes, silent auctions and a 50-50 raffle. Celebrated nationally-ranked comedian Mookie G and Christin Neal entertained the crowd in between the music sets.
In total, over $12,000 was raised toward the Northside Hospital Breast Cancer Fund and Cancer/Medical Research.

Karen Tortoriello is a two-time breast cancer survivor. At age 43, Karen found a lump on her breast. As an active mother of four (ages 4, 8, 12, and 14), she had always been in good health, enjoying tennis and other sports, and had even recently achieved her lifelong dream of being the lead singer in a local rock band. She would never have suspected an aggressive triple negative breast cancer growing inside of her. She endured months of multiple chemotherapy regimens followed by 33 days of radiation. Karen was strong, had the love and support of family, friends and neighbors - and she had her music. After chemo had caused her to lose all her hair, their band, BackFlash performed at a local breast cancer benefit, wearing creative wigs! Karen found strength that she never knew she had; she fought and was declared cancer free. Until 2020 when a routine follow-up found yet another type of breast cancer. This time, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, major surgery was indicated.  Once again, she fought, recovered and is once again cancer free.

Suzanne Gadreault, Linda Faupel and Wade Gadreault volunteering at the fundraiser.

In 2023, Karen’s daughter-in-law Megan was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (aka bone cancer). As a young mother of a one-year old daughter, Megan’s illness has once again disrupted the Tortoriello family. Megan has bravely undergone aggressive chemotherapy, followed by major surgery to remove the tumor. She is fighting hard and has the love and support of loving friends and family, and is fighting her way through this.  She has Karen as a great role model. Other members of the band have also been personally touched by cancer. Dean Petrie recently lost his mother to lung and brain cancer, and Jack Rigg lost his wife to breast cancer.

Karen Tortoriello and Linda Faupel have organized a breast cancer fundraiser every year since Karen’s original diagnosis. This year, they worked with the Northside Hospital Foundation, and all proceeds will be split between 2 of the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute Funds:     1) Breast Cancer Fund / Mammograms, and 2) Cancer / Medical Research. Karen received her treatment at Northside, and Megan is currently receiving her care there.


Breast Care Fund

The Northside Hospital Foundation ‘Breast Care Fund’ helps provide over 2,600+ screening mammograms for under-insured women in the community annually, as well as lodging & transportation assistance, patient/staff education and research. It also supports our Northside Hospital Mobile Mammography Van which serves over 3,400+ women in the community annually. On average, 25 breast cancers are detected annually because of this life-saving service to the community!

General Cancer/Research Fund

Cancer is taxing not only on one’s physical health, but on their emotional health and resources as well. The Northside Hospital Cancer Institute fund supports research, medical care, and education, and works with community partners to provide support services such as transportation and lodging for cancer patients and their families.