Long Island police commissioner is fighting crime — and cancer
She took a job fighting crime — but this top cop is also going after breast cancer.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced late last week the department would be working with Stony Brook Medicine to make it easier for Long Island women to get tested for breast cancer.
It’s not the typical job for a police commissioner — but for Hart, it’s personal. The married mother of two was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2017, she told the Post in an exclusive interview.
“I’m actually a pretty private person. I usually kind of hesitate sharing things like this,” she said. But “you know what? Privacy’s nice, but maybe it’s better to share a story if it’s going to help out more.”
Hart, 52, learned she had cancer after she went for an exam at the urging of loved ones.
“For me, it was around my birthday in ‘17 — I was turning 50 and getting together with friends,” Hart said. “Somebody had a scare in the group, and they really were kind of drilling down: ‘You really need to get this done.’ ”
She hadn’t had an exam in years and took her friend’s advice to heart. Hart went for testing toward the end of May of that year and found out that despite having no signs and no family history of breast cancer, something wasn’t right.
“I just thought it was routine,” she said, but then the doctor “called me and said, ‘You should get a surgeon, because we found something, and you should have it removed.’ ”
After working with specialists at Stony Brook Medicine, Hart underwent a lumpectomy in July 2017. She didn’t have time to grapple with her diagnosis, nor did she let herself sulk.
“You just get that mindset of, ‘You know what, I’m gonna take this on and fight it and then we’re going to see what’s next,’ ” she said.
Hart, who was Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Long Island office at the time, had intended to give herself time to recover after surgery, but life happened.
She went back to work as a federal agent on Friday, July 28, 2017, right after surgery to attend President Trump’s appearance at a local community college.
“I was out sick, but I had to come back because the president was coming to Brentwood, Suffolk County Community College. I had to attend that,” she said, with a laugh. “I remember thinking, I just want to recover, but I have to go to work now.”
Months passed, and Hart neither needed to undergo radiation nor chemotherapy. She found out she was cancer-free Feb. 21, 2018 — the same day news broke that she was slated to be Suffolk County’s newest police commissioner.
“I literally went that day for my first screening post-op to see if I was clear,” she recalled. “There was a lot of tension surrounding that.”
She met with the doctor and got the all-clear, then went straight to make the big announcement.
“I was leaving the doctor’s office and [I said], ‘I have to go, you’re not going to believe it — I’m about to be announced as the Suffolk County Police Commissioner,” she added with a laugh.
“What could have been a difficult day thankfully turned out to be a fantastic day,” she remembered. “It was quite a day, quite a turnaround.”
In her new role, Hart became determined to work with Stony Brook Medicine on an early breast cancer detection program for Long Island women — an idea that came to fruition on Friday, when Hart, alongside Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Stony Brook officials revealed they had planned eight dates for women to get checked inside Stony Brook’s Mobile Mammography Van.
The van will be stationed outside various locations — such as libraries, churches and a local town hall — and at differing times, on both weekends and weekdays, between June 29 and September 22.
The police department’s Community Relations Bureau plans to play music or activities, and will be joined by the canine and aviation units, to keep children busy while their parents are being examined.
“Commissioner Hart should serve as an inspiration to us all, using her own personal experience with breast cancer to raise awareness about the power of early detection, which has saved countless lives,” Bellone said. “We are making it easier than ever for working women to get checked.”
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