hereforthegirls | Here for the Girls, Inc.
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, August 09, 2017 | More Post by

Natalie Bare was one of our Starlets of Dance in 2015! Here she is at that event.

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

I would say deciding to start figure skating as an adult has been a defining moment in my life. Skating has taught me discipline and perseverance and how to have fun and laugh at myself. I was able to keep skating during my chemo and radiation treatments. It was good to have something normal to keep going to. Since starting skating I have won two national metals the first one came to weeks after my diagnosis and then the second one came this year in April. Skating is giving me a whole group of friends of a variety of ages from children to octogenarians who inspire me and keep me going.

-Natalie Bare

, August 09, 2017 | More Post by

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

When I was in college, I went through Rush, however, I did not get selected by a sorority. Surprisingly, looking back, I am glad that no one picked me. Because, later that semester, the school’s administration decided that the female students had more interest in belonging to a sorority than the current four could handle. They decided to ask another sorority to found a chapter on our campus, which I joined. We were a small but mighty group of women who bonded immediately and created memories and traditions that the chapter still continues. During the remaining years at school, those women became my closest friends and many still are today.

Fast forward 20+ years to homecoming in the fall of 2016. I had been diagnosed the previous July and was up at homecoming with my family. Unbeknownst to me, my husband and friends had contacted the current chapter of women at my school and had created a “Titan Strong” (Titan is our mascot) t-shirt for everyone to wear in support of me. I came around the corner to the Chapter Room and there stood 41 college students with the t-shirt on. Now, these women didn’t know me, I didn’t know them, but because we are sisters, they did everything they could to support me. They wrote letters of encouragement to me, my husband and my children. One of them had #katystrong buttons made and another’s mom knitted me a prayer shawl. There were a lot of tears shed that day, but they were happy tears because of the love that I felt from each one of these women.

What I have come to realize from 20+ years ago is that sisterhood has no boundaries. Distance, age, generation or background does not define who a sister can be. I have been welcomed as a sister throughout my life into organizations I never believed would have such an impact on my life. We had an expression in my sorority that has stayed with me throughout my life, “Love in our bond.” To me this is sisterhood defined and has been a guiding principle of my life for the last 20+ years.

-Katy Loy

, August 03, 2017 | More Post by

Welcome to our “Pink Link Stories” blog series! These stories are from women who are a part of (or support) our virtual Pink Link community for breast cancer survivors (pinklink.org). Each quarter, we offer a new writing prompt — this quarter, we asked women to share a story about genetic predisposition and breast cancer. We will publish a few of those entries* here (lightly edited for length and typos). (* Due to the number of entries, we cannot guarantee all entries will be posted on our blog and we reserve the right to post based on our discretion.) 

Inheritance played a lot in my diagnosis and I didn’t even know it. My mom died of a rare type of lung cancer called mesothelioma at 49. Her dad died of esophageal cancer. But there was no breast cancer at all on either side of my family until my second cousin’s daughter on my mom’s side was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36. It turns out, her dad (my second cousin) had the bRCA2 gene. He never had cancer and he is in his 70s.

Unfortunately, this information was not shared with me since I am not close to this side of the family. I was diagnosed six years later with stage 1 HER2 at 42 with the BRCA2 gene. Looking back, it was a missed opportunity for me to be an advocate for my own health. If I would have understood hereditary breast cancer risks, I would have pushed to be tested years ago.

-Christina

, July 28, 2017 | More Post by

2018 calendar model Jamie Vanek and her kids on her favorite trail near her home.

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

Meet Calendar Model Jamie Vanek

10 years ago I uprooted my life to move to a state that I hated with a man that I loved. I hated everything about Virginia until I discovered Newport News’ little treasure, the Noland Trail. When my husband first showed it to me I told him I couldn’t run 5 miles. But later, it is on this trail that I fell in love with running and truly accepted my new home. From this trail I trained for my first marathon, planned our new house, explored with our children, and pondered life. So much has happened in 10 years and so much of it has happened around this location.

-Jamie

, July 26, 2017 | More Post by

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

Meet Calendar Model Cheri Lavalle

November 20, 2007 was the day I married my best friend Hector. He has been the most remarkable person in my life. He has cared and supported me through the most traumatic time of my life which is breast cancer. He has told me how beautiful I am with no hair, how strong I am at my weakest moment and how much he loves me even though cancer has consumed the past 3 years of our marriage. I  cannot imagine my life and this journey of cancer without him.

-Cheri

, July 25, 2017 | More Post by

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

Meet Calendar Model Miki Fett

Unbelievably, moving to Hawaii with my handsome new groom was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life (besides beating cancer!). It was a year of changes and adjustments… I had never been this far away from family and friends, my husband and I had never even lived in the same state.

A year later, once we had it all figured out, he was deploying for 15 months. I was going to be alone, on an island, far from home. A week after his deployment, a kind voice on my answering machine said her husband sat by my husband on the plane to Kuwait, had mentioned that his wife needed a friend, and passed along my number. Should I call her back, I wondered? She took a chance by calling me so I gave it a shot.

11 years later, we are still the best of friends.  We’ve been through and hell and back together. During that 15 month deployment, we bonded with six other ladies too (we’re all pictured here) and they’ve all taught me life lessons… the biggest one being that blood does not make you family. It is the experiences and bonds shared, being sisters for one and another that does. I have a wonderful blood and unrelated family, these ladies have had the largest impact on my life and I carry a piece of them with me always. We are the Band of Sisters and my life was forever changed by making that phone call.

-Miki

, July 18, 2017 | More Post by

Desiree Parker is our Pink Link Program Manager. Here’s why she’s “Here for the Girls”:

Years ago, I had a job where I didn’t feel like I was making that much of a difference to anyone, even though I wanted to. If you think about it, your job is often where you expend the most effort (aside from what you do for your family), and I wanted to do something with my life that was useful and meaningful. I volunteered for Here for the Girls back when it was just Beyond Boobs!, and I loved what I did there. When I got the chance to work for the organization, I was thrilled to become part of the team!

Cancer has touched my life – as it has for many others. My mother had lung cancer when I was a teenager that ultimately metastasized and caused her death. She also had an early-stage primary breast cancer after her lung cancer diagnosis (it’s unusual for someone to have two primary cancers, especially when they occur close together) which was treated with a lumpectomy. After she died, I felt guilty because I didn’t think that (as a somewhat self-absorbed teen) I had done all I could to be there for her after she was diagnosed and through the five years until she passed away. (The photo is of me when I was little, sitting next to my mom).

I’ve come to realize over the years that we all handle tough situations like the death of a loved one in different ways at different times in our lives; we simply do what we can based on where we are emotionally. It makes me happy that now, as an adult and as a mother myself, I have a chance to work on behalf of women who are dealing with life after a breast cancer diagnosis. I’m glad to be a part of offering them a network of love and support. Many of the women we serve have happy outcomes, though some do not – but the important thing (to me) is to make sure they all have support at every phase of their treatment and beyond. You can face so much more in life when you have a hand to hold. That’s why I’m Here for the Girls!

, July 06, 2017 | More Post by

Jamin Riley is the husband of Victoria Riley, our Business Development and Operations Manager. He explains why he is “Here for the Girls”:

This past October, I was fortunate enough to volunteer at the annual “Run for the Hills” event on behalf of Here for the Girls. The spirit that was present was something else all together. Teams festooned with all manner of sparkle and shine chugged along in support of an organization unlike any other.

As a marshal for the race, I manned one of the checkpoints on the course and watched as group after group of uniquely exuberant racers walked, jogged, trotted, and even skipped along. I ran cross country in high school, but I had never seen a race quite like this. Spectators and runners alike were out of breath. Not from the race itself, but from cheering and uplifting. Every time a new group sprung from the woods, they echoed the screams of the volunteers and were given new life while rounding the turn.

I watched all of this unfold and couldn’t help but draw a comparison to the organization that we were all there to support. Here for the Girls makes a real difference in the lives of the women it embraces. This unique organization, festooned with all manner of sparkle and shine, gives Boobers! the breath they need to keep running each and every day.

, June 28, 2017 | More Post by

Welcome to our “Pink Link Stories” blog series! These stories are from women who are a part of (or support) our virtual Pink Link community for breast cancer survivors (pinklink.org). Each quarter, we offer a new writing prompt — this quarter, we asked women to share a story about helping another woman with breast cancer. We will publish a few of those entries* here (lightly edited for length and typos), and we’ll also be randomly selecting one entrant each quarter to receive a $50 gift card! If you want to keep up with future writing prompts, sign up for our newsletter here. (* Due to the number of entries, we cannot guarantee all entries will be posted on our blog and we reserve the right to post based on our discretion.) 

The morning my colleague, Mary, came to my desk and asked if she could speak to me, I knew something was terribly wrong. I saw fear in her eyes — the same emotion I had experienced upon receiving my breast cancer diagnosis several years earlier. Mary confirmed then what I had suspected — she had just recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and needed to speak with someone who had been through what she now faced.

I recalled the early days of my diagnosis and the positive support, offers of prayers and encouraging words from friends and family that carried me through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. I knew Mary had to hear encouraging words and though my heart was aching for her that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, I imparted words of encouragement and comfort to her as best I could. We spoke about treatment and what she might experience while undergoing chemotherapy. I shared with her how I handled hair loss, appetite loss and other debilitating effects of chemotherapy. We spoke about undergoing a mastectomy and subsequent reconstructive surgery. We joked that reconstructive surgery was the ‘up’ side of having breast cancer.

While Mary was going through chemotherapy, she often shared with me the symptoms she was experiencing and I told her I had experienced similar symptoms but that she wasn’t to worry, the side effects were temporary. I told Mary that in a year’s time, it would be she who would be supporting a breast cancer survivor. So, Mary bravely forged ahead in her battle against cancer and while she continued treatment, we shared happy moments even through the rough times.

Then, Mary was dealt a devastating blow. Her cancer, a particularly aggressive type, was not responding to treatment and had metastasized. In just over a year of receiving her diagnosis, Mary lost her battle and passed away. I was heartbroken.

At her visitation, I stared at Mary’s face in the collage of photographs her family had compiled, trying to formulate an apology to her. I thought I had let her down, given her hope where none existed. Then, I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder. It was Mary’s sister, Kelly. “Francine,” she said. “Mary often spoke of how she drew strength from speaking with you.” I started crying then, not only for Mary but because, as Kelly explained, Mary never gave up hope, right to the end and I felt comforted that, in some small way, I had contributed to her courageous battle.

-Francine

, June 22, 2017 | More Post by

Victoria Riley is our Business Development and Operations Manager. Here’s why she’s “Here for the Girls”:

Victoria is pictured here on the left — she’s hard to recognize when she’s in disguise!

Being here for the girls started as a family affair back in 2008. My mom, who was volunteering at the time, asked my sister and I to help out. We were both undergraduates in college and until that point had only been volunteers to fulfill requirements for school. It was not until then that I realized what it meant to serve others.

Over the next eight years, I helped out here and there in various ways. In 2016, with the support of my husband, we turned our lives upside down and relocated to Williamsburg, VA. I accepted a full-time position with the organization. Since then, I have gained a new perspective of what it means to wake up each day and go to work. I am not here to punch in a clock and to collect a paycheck, but rather to support young women. The behind the scenes work, where I typically find myself on a day-to-day basis, keeps me going especially after losing three women in my first year.

The love, support, and togetherness displayed has been that of true sisters, much like the love, support, and togetherness shared with my own. We fight everyday because they fight everyday. That is why I am here for the girls.