, December 06, 2019 | More Post by

Debra, 33, diagnosed at 29

No family history, no known genetic mutation 

Debra, a newlywed and mother to a young stepson, accidentally found a lump while resting in bed. Because of Debra’s age, her ob/gyn wasn’t concerned but ordered a mammogram, “just in case.” In this case, it was Stage 4 breast cancer, having already spread to other organs. She immediately underwent chemotherapy infusions, two lumpectomies, and radiation. She remains in active treatment to delay the spread and states her current occupation is “trying to stay alive.” Debra says while cancer has stolen so much from her, such as the ability to bear children and peace of mind, she has found some positives, including the H4TG sisterhood. She has learned to put her dreams first, knowing she might not have a long life to achieve them. A passionate dressage rider, Debra describes her horse Jacob as “my heart and soul.” So just as the princess in the Goose Girl is ultimately saved by her talking horse, Debra feels Jacob is her lifesaver. “He never has anything to say, he’s just always a shoulder to cry on, a big clown to lick me when I’m feeling down.” Her dream is to achieve the riding level necessary for her and Jacob to win a U.S. Dressage Federation silver medal.

, November 22, 2019 | More Post by

Welcome to our blog series, “Mission Moment!” It’s a snapshot of the impact our mission and programs have on the women we serve. If you have any questions about Here for the Girls support services and programs, email the program team at support@hereforthegirls.org!

When someone hears the words “you have cancer,” finding support related to emotional and social resilience is crucial in facing the journey on their own terms. This is even more important for those faced with a metastatic diagnosis. To help meet that need, Here for the Girls is piloting a virtual chat to provide women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer with structured emotional support and an opportunity to connect and share with others traveling the same difficult path.

Any H4TG member diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer is eligible to register. Ten openings are available for the pilot group; a waiting list will be maintained. If you are facing metastatic breast cancer and would like a compassionate, supportive environment in which to connect with fellow travelers on this unsought journey, please register today.

, November 08, 2019 | More Post by

Jenyse, 48, diagnosed at 43
No family history
No known genetic mutation
Jenyse is grateful to her husband for first discovering the lump in her breast that led to her Stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis and for then being by her side for every appointment, treatment, and “breakdown” that followed. She opted for a single mastectomy with reconstruction and chemotherapy. A successful realtor, Jenyse says her family is her greatest accomplishment and the diagnosis that strengthened her marriage also brought her family closer together. Her three now-adult sons even shaved their heads in solidarity with their Mom. Having lost her mother-in-law to cancer just months before her own diagnosis, Jenyse remembers this advice from their last conversation: “Life is too short to sweat the small stuff. Live each day to the fullest,” which Jenyse now does, joined by family as often as possible. As the Snow Queen, Jenyse makes a beautiful and fierce villain but ultimately relates to the tale’s message of individual strength and the power of love. About the heroine, one character says, “I can give her no greater power than she has already. Don’t you see how strong that is?” When tested, Jenyse indeed discovered the strength she always possessed that was made stronger by the love of family.

, October 22, 2019 | More Post by

Welcome to the blog series “Thoughts From Chris,” a quarterly letter from our Executive Director, Chris Schwab. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

October is the final wrapping up of summer and the welcome of fall; at Here for the Girls (H4TG), it is a busy time as it is also breast cancer awareness month. This is a month to take a moment to stop and think about the 1 in 8 women in the U.S. who will be diagnosed with this disease. Unfortunately, this statistic could apply to a member of our family, a friend, or a co-worker.
Many breast cancer organizations are focused on helping women manage and live with this disease, as is Here for the Girls. I commend all who dedicate their time and expertise toward this common goal. With our different programs, services, and styles we are all addressing the needs of women diagnosed with breast cancer.
We support young women under the age of 51 because of the unique challenges and fears women in this age range face with their diagnosis. We listen to the words of our women like AJ, who said, “Halfway through chemo, I hit a wall. I felt nobody understood what I was going through.” Our team dedicates their time to understanding the challenges young women face and continually improves comprehensive support programs designed to train facilitators and deliver our support services. AJ left her first meeting comforted by knowing she had “sisters” that understood her fear of not seeing her children grow up. She is now a trained H4TG facilitator and a 2020 calendar girl ambassador helping other women.
We build and nurture relationships with the medical community because they understand firsthand what happens to a young women’s emotional well-being after a diagnosis and that many times the impacts last long after treatment. It is our responsibility to partner with the medical community in offering vital information through educational sessions, our published breast health guide, and our weekend retreats – all that provide the most up-to-date knowledge they need to continue living their best lives beyond this disease.
We connect on a personal level with our communities because people understand that breast cancer is very much a community issue.  It is our mothers, wives, sisters, and partners that are faced with this disease and the statistics that give them a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed.  Marsha Hudgins, CEO of Hudgins Contracting and supporter of H4TG shares, “this (H4TG) is for real people who live in our community – people that we can see, talk to and know what they are going through.” Women play a vital role in the health of communities; they are strong leaders, they inspire the youth, and they mentor others. It is important to connect with the community so that together we build an environment where women with a breast cancer diagnosis understand the positive impact they have.
As we launch into the month of October, I ask that you take a moment to think about the statistics and the impact of breast cancer on your community. Take a moment to listen to the sentiments of our calendar girl ambassadors in the this video. Share our services with someone in need. Give us a call or email if you would like to learn more or get involved. Help us be “here for our girls.”

Thank You For Your Support,
Chris Schwab, Executive Director

, October 14, 2019 | More Post by
What does it mean to “go beyond pink?” It’s a fair question. During the month of October, the pink is everywhere! We see pink ribbons on everything from coffee cups to cottage cheese and everything in between. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of fundraising for any organization, but sometimes the pink isn’t doing what you think. I once picked up a pink lollipop in the shape of a ribbon off of a large display of pink products. Reading the label I found nothing about who the sale of this lollipop (and my hardearned $1.19) would benefit. The label said in a tiny font, “proceeds benefit breast cancer awareness.” Awareness? Aren’t we all aware by now? And who is getting that money, exactly? As I walked away (with my $1.19 still in my pocket), I was thinking about how great it makes me feel to meet someone who is going BEYOND merely making us aware of what that pink ribbon means, beyond wearing some pink, and beyond even encouraging others to do the same. They are taking action to make a real change and raising funds to help “the girls” with breast cancer in a tangible way.
That’s what going beyond pink means to us! It’s our supporters and partners who raise funds for our organization and the women we serve. They put our name on their promotional materials along with our mission statement, and often times they even share our website so that someone seeing that post, flyer, or product knows where to get support if they need it.
 
One example this month of “going beyond pink” is the simple profit share hosted by local brand consulting firm DesignHaus on behalf of our organization. Owner Julia Verden-Hillebrand wrote, “This is the beginning of a wonderful partnership with an amazing support network. DesignHaus has committed to support Here for the Girls and the opportunity to give back to the community and support a great cause by continuously donating 5% of ALL proceeds!” Now that’s what I call going beyond pink! Some of our other supporters and partners plan elaborate events like a recent bowling tournament hosted by Clubwaka or a Zumbathon recently hosted by Ironbound Gym, and others simply choose to collect donations throughout the month of October.
However you choose to support our mission and our women, H4TG appreciates each and every dollar, which we use to make a real difference in the lives of young women affected by breast cancer. And yes, we will sport some pink from time to time! It starts a conversation, and for that we are most grateful. In our logo you’ll notice a pink heart that was inspired by a pink ribbon. Why? Because we’re all about the love! We love our ladies, we love our supporters, and we LOVE it when our friends go beyond pink – For the Girls!
– Vicki Vawter, H4TG Program and Community Relations Manager
Category: Blog

, October 14, 2019 | More Post by

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

If we use the benchmark set by Mrs. King, the greatness of the community at Here for the Girls is immeasurable. Having worked with Here for the Girls for many years, the team at ALOR is constantly blown away by the good that they do for their community and the unwavering support they offer to young women during the toughest times of their lives.

The part of Here for the Girls’ mission that resonates the most with the team at ALOR is their unshakable desire to create a community of women who are strong, courageous, and genuine. Community is a necessity to thrive and survive even in the most mundane of times and to build such a strong network during times of strife is truly awe-inspiring. This community-centric philosophy is part of what inspired our Affirmation Collection and ultimately what connected us with Here for the Girls.

Through no easy feat, the committed members of this organization have made a lasting impact on so many lives and ALOR is proud to play even the smallest part to help maintain this network of women relying on and inspiring each other. It is our ultimate hope that through the channels of communication that this organization has created, no one has to go through their journey alone but instead are surrounded by their sisters and, of course, the good health fairy!

-The Team at ALOR

A portion of the proceeds for bracelets sold from ALOR’s Affirmation Collection (pictured here) in October will be donated to Here for the Girls.

, October 14, 2019 | More Post by
47, diagnosed at 44 
1st degree family history 
No known genetic mutation 
Samantha (aka Sammi Jo), a finance project manager, had reported feeling a lump in her right breast for nearly a year and finally insisted her doctor order a mammogram. Just four months after her wedding, she was diagnosed with stage 0, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) breast cancer and underwent a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. Eight days prior to surgery, her husband found information about a study of a new type of tissue expander that allows patients to expand them at home. Determined to have them, she persevered and achieved the nearly impossible – becoming the first USA patient outside the study to get them, paving the way for others. Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Sammi Jo is a fierce advocate for herself and others, like her character, Little Red Riding Hood. “Throw me to the wolves, and I will return leading the pack,” describes her well. Blending compassion with determination, Sammi Jo is committed to helping others who travel her path and says, “The fear is real, but soon I hope you will be where I am now – a little battered and bruised, but wiser, braver, and with a quiet inner strength that will remind you every day of what you have achieved.”

, September 09, 2019 | More Post by

Welcome to our blog series, “Mission Moment!” It’s a snapshot of the impact our mission and programs have on the women we serve. If you have any questions about Here for the Girls support services and programs, email the program team at support@hereforthegirls.org!

Every year H4TG selects 12 members (aka Boobers!) to be featured in our annual calendar and to serve as ambassadors for the organization. Part of the requirement to be a calendar model is fundraising. Each model is given a fundraising goal to be reached by the end of the calendar year. One of our most recent models elected to gift funds she raised to another calendar model. She had already reached her goal and wanted to help her fellow sister reach her goal as well. She told us that, “teamwork makes the dream work,” and that she is “here for the girls!” That’s what we are all about – we will continue to band together to live out our mission!

, September 03, 2019 | More Post by

44, diagnosed at 42

2nd degree family history, no known mutation

Shannon, mother of two teens, wife, and virtual assistant, had cervical cancer at age 37 and a family history of breast cancer prompting her doctor to order annual breast MRIs. Her first MRI found suspicious areas in her right breast. Testing confirmed Stage 1 breast cancer, and she opted for a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Shannon’s first battle with cancer was private with just her devoted husband and family for support as she detached from friends she felt couldn’t understand. With the second diagnosis, she turned outward, not inward and found a mission she calls “Reflect Ripples,” to help women through their “storms.” Attending the annual Here for the Girls retreat was “the best decision” because she uncovered the emptiness left by her first battle and found sisters to help her heal through the next. Of her character, Shannon says, “Mistress Miller and I are kindred spirits. We both are strong, resourceful women who found ways to rise above the challenge of seemingly impossible tasks – hers to spin straw into gold and mine to conquer cancer twice. I am now a better version of myself and able to spin the fear, sadness, and depression into gold – a mission of helping others, as I was helped.”

, August 09, 2019 | More Post by

Welcome to our blog series, “Mission Moment!” It’s a snapshot of the impact our mission and programs have on the women we serve. If you have any questions about Here for the Girls support services and programs, email the program team at support@hereforthegirls.org!

Do you want to know who helps make our loving support possible? Our amazing facilitators, also known as “leaders of love!” And, trust us — they’ve truly got the love! These amazing women (a few of them are pictured here at our annual facilitator training weekend) volunteer their time to lead our in-person support systems which span across four states and serve over 300 members annually. They open their arms and homes to our members and provide support through diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.

Check out what one of our members had to say about the impact of her support system:

“This group has taught me that I can face the ugly cancer beast, look it straight in the eye and say, ‘not this time cancer, you’re not taking another thing from me.’ It has taught me I’m not alone, and I am greater than the cancer beast.”