, March 06, 2020 | More Post by

48, diagnosed at 46

No family history, No known genetic mutation

Joyce noticed a divot in her right breast and mentioned it at her annual exam. After receiving a stern lecture from her gynecologist about keeping up with her annual mammograms, Joyce promised to get one. Within a week of the mammogram, and with her husband (who had rushed home from a work trip) by her side, Joyce received a diagnosis of stage 1 breast cancer. During treatment that included chemo, a lumpectomy, and radiation, Joyce continued her full-time work in communications while being mom to her active 11-year-old son. “I am a professional communicator, but it was hard for me to tell people about the diagnosis,” she says. A dear friend encouraged her to share her story, and this helped her get the love and support she needed from “Team Joyce,” her tribe of friends and family. She’d like to use her skills as a communicator to give hope and inspiration to other women facing breast cancer – some of which she found for herself in the calendar theme. “As a cancer survivor-in-progress, I find the stories of how women in the 1920s had the fortitude and willpower to make it through a war, overcome adversity, and create a new way for themselves to be so inspiring.”

, February 05, 2020 | More Post by

Shawnna 41, diagnosed at 39

No family history, PALB2 genetic mutation

Shawnna, mother of three and military wife, felt a lump one day when crossing her arms and quickly sought testing that revealed stage 3B triple negative breast cancer. As a nurse, she’d worked with many breast cancer patients, including Ms. April 2020, but she never expected the tables to turn. “I thought I knew what it was like until I was diagnosed and had to have a bilateral mastectomy, chemo, and radiation,” Shawnna said. Joining H4TG was a natural step. Having introduced many of her patients to them, she understood how crucial H4TG could be during and after breast cancer treatment. Now she has experienced and continues to benefit from the special loving support H4TG offers. As the nurse who became the patient, Shawnna has this unique perspective to share. The 1920s represent to Shawnna the dawn of the new woman and changing attitudes towards their roles and abilities and epitomizes a favorite quote, “Rise up.” Since her diagnosis, Shawnna feels she is a new woman, too, saying, “I am more comfortable with myself than ever before. I realized my worth, my strength, and what I have to offer this world.” This focus on personal well-being is one message she’d like to share with other survivors.

, January 24, 2020 | More Post by
Dear Friends of H4TG,
Happy New Year!  As we close out 2019, we thank you — our community, partners, and friends — for your work and tireless commitment to moving our mission forward.  Your support of our efforts positively impacted our success. Let’s take a look at some H4TG milestones!
In 2019 YOU helped us to:Enhance our staff by adding a licensed clinical social worker. Her role is to work closely with the H4TG program team to: 1) provide subject matter expertise for both the staff and trained facilitator teams in navigating challenges they face in helping women with a breast cancer diagnosis and 2) assist in developing initiatives resulting in improved program excellence.
  • Develop a program initiative designed for our members with stage IV, incurable breast cancer to address the unique needs they face. To start, we hosted our first annual You’re in Charge metastatic retreat in June. The retreat provided educational and informational sessions to help members plan for the future while helping them enjoy the now.
  • Develop a program initiative centered on supporting our members through educational sessions.  These sessions are designed to focus on specific breast cancer related topics, such as reconstruction surgery or women’s health.  Sessions are presented by our partners in the medical community or subject matter experts in a particular field and help answer many of the questions our women have.
  • Develop a bereavement process to honor the memory of our members whose lives have been cut short by breast cancer. We honor their passing through our new In Our Hearts life celebration program. The program includes a memorial to the deceased member on our In Our Hearts web page, inclusion of the deceased member’s name in our annual ceremony, and inclusion in our annual In Our Hearts glass memorial sculpture.
  • Increase our grant and foundation funding by 65% to support the efforts of our program initiatives.
We enter 2020 with a sense of enthusiasm for the goals set for the year and determination to continually improve our program services. Here for the Girls offers what is important to our members – a shared experience, unconditional acceptance, inclusive relationships, and knowledge that provides a sense of empowerment. 
Stay tuned for news on:New service offerings tied to the 2019 initiative for women with a metastatic diagnosis (incurable stage IV)
  • Launch of an improved online presence to include a robust private portal just for our members
  • Launch of the Transitional Phases of Support Model (TPSM) and related app that will better identify the support requirements of our members based on their individual needs and circumstances
We are incredibly fortunate to have such great partnerships within the communities we serve. As always, we thank you and appreciate your commitment to our women, and we look forward to the upcoming year.
Sincerely,
Chris Schwab, Executive Director
Category: Blog

, January 24, 2020 | More Post by

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” -Helen Keller

Every year the H4TG Team brainstorms and establishes new organization-wide goals. Several goals are mission-related, which means they are set to directly impact our members (aka Boobers!). We are extremely excited about the road ahead for 2020, especially with new program service offerings that will provide more opportunities for social and emotional support and education for all our members, and expanded programs for our members with metastatic breast cancer.

Interested in ways YOU can get involved to make a difference at H4TG? If you are a survivor, join the Boober! Shaping the Future Committee! This Boober!-only committee meets on a quarterly basis to discuss mission-related topics that directly impact the future of H4TG. To date, the committee has helped shape the member communication process, the bereavement process, encouraged the establishment new service offerings for members with metastatic breast cancer plus much MORE! The only requirement for joining the committee is that you need to be a current member (Boober!).

If you are not a survivor/member, you can get involved and support our mission by becoming a volunteer (we have MANY opportunities for this!) or becoming a donor/sponsor.

Please contact us at support@hereforthegirls.org to learn more about any of these opportunities!

, January 08, 2020 | More Post by

Age 39, diagnosed at 37

No family history, no known genetic mutation

After a routine mammogram screening due to having dense breasts, Hope, who works as a counselor, was called back in for a 3D mammogram and ultrasound that led to a biopsy and then a stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis. Shocked to hear the diagnosis, she recalls returning to her car right after the appointment holding a binder full of information from the nurse and asking herself, did they just say I have cancer? She was scheduled to receive her Ph. D in Organizational Leadership after her lumpectomy and just as she was heading into four rounds of chemo. Determined twalk across the stage for her graduation, she pushed back the chemo until after receiving her diploma. Radiation treatment followed chemo. Hope’s name reflects her attitude in life. During treatment, Hope always kept a smile on her face and in her heart, and it was important to her that her friends and family shared her positive energy. When thinking about the 1920s, Hope says she appreciates history for its lessons. “My hope is that history won’t repeat itself with the negatives but rather that we learn from them, grow, and have the tools needed to do and be better.” Now, Hope is using her history of breast cancer to help others. 

, December 17, 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!

We are in the midst of our annual appeal which doubles your donation now through the end of 2019! Curious to know where you money goes? Well, for starters, $0.81 of every dollar goes directly to our mission which is to improve the lives of young women affected by breast cancer. But wait, what does that really mean? It means that your donation will do amazing things… here are just some of ways:

  • Provide social and emotional support for our members through diagnosis, treatment, and beyond
  • Provide a social work support team to help navigate the complexities of a breast cancer diagnosis and how it impacts our members
  • Provide in-depth training for a team of facilitators that lead our in-person monthly support gatherings
  • Provide tools and guidance of how to re-balance yourself after a breast cancer diagnosis

Every dollar counts so please consider contributing to H4TG by donating to our annual appeal today! Donations can be made at hereforthegirls.org/annualappeal.

, 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

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