, June 25, 2019 | More Post by

Welcome to our new 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 support@hereforthegirls.org!

Our goal is to help women step outside of their comfort zone and live life NOW! One of the ways we do this is through our annual retreat where we provide sessions designed to empower our members to find their new normal after a breast cancer diagnosis. Check out what one of our members had to say about the experience.

“So I did a thing this weekend… stepped so far out of my comfort zone. I went to a wellness retreat for young women with breast cancer. I only knew a handful of women out of the 90 of us there and I really did the best I could to not totally hide in my shell. I had a blast. I met some of the bravest, most badass, most beautiful women ever! [I was] surrounded by so much love and positive support. [I received] great tools and guidance to take home and really start bringing some closure to my emotional healing.”

, June 13, 2019 | More Post by

Being a part of this amazing organization has brought so much joy to me and becoming friends with our ladies and the staff here make it so special. One of my favorite things about working and volunteering at Here for the Girls is that I get to also bring my family to events, fundraisers, retreats, and more! They have been so helpful with everything from traffic control at our annual run to cooking in the kitchen at our annual retreat. They get to join me in the feeling of seeing the impact it makes in the lives of our women and in our community.  It truly takes a village to run a non-profit, and I am so happy that village includes the people I love most!

-Vicki Vawter, Program + Community Relations Manager

, June 12, 2019 | More Post by

35, diagnosed at 31

No family history, No known genetic mutation

A Navy spouse and stay-at-home mom of two girls, Kendall found a lump in her left breast after having stopped breast feeding her youngest.  Although not concerned, her cautious doctor ordered testing, and within a week, Kendall was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer. Always the caregiver, Kendall was shocked at 31 to be the one receiving care as her husband, his colleagues, family, and friends all rallied to help while she underwent chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and radiation. Because Kendall is most comfortable as protector, she identified with Gretel, who saves her brother from the witch and leads them both to safety. During Kendall’s treatment, her youngest daughter was diagnosed profoundly deaf, and Kendall had to set aside her own vulnerability, fragility, and fears to help her daughter escape from a silent world. Also, both Gretel and Kendall discovered deep strength, resilience, and adaptability as they both undertook treacherous journeys that offered them opportunities to grow. Now as a facilitator of the Newport News Beyond Boobs! group that so welcomed her, Kendall is helping other young women find their way through a scary and unsettling time. Kendall’s happily ever after includes being around to meet her grandkids one day.

, May 30, 2019 | More Post by

As an organization that serves young women affected by breast cancer, we make sure to keep up with the latest news so we know what our women face when it comes to treatment and beyond. In this blog series, we will share the month’s news that we feel is most interesting and relevant.

Previous news of note: A new study suggests that rather than changing what they eat to prevent breast cancer tumor growth, a person may benefit from simply timing their meals differently. “Exploring the ability of time-restricted eating to prevent breast cancer could provide an inexpensive but effective strategy to prevent cancer impacting a wide range of patients and represents a groundbreaking advance in breast cancer research,” according to the lead researcher. Here’s the LINK to the story from Medical News Today.

May 15: In a new study of almost 49,000 women, researchers report evidence that a low-fat diet, similar to the kind doctors recommend for heart health, is also linked to a lower risk of dying from breast cancer. Here’s the LINK to the story in TIME.

May 19: Here’s an in-depth look at possible reasons for the disparity in breast cancer survival rates for African American women. One reason: they are not well represented in clinical trials. Here’s a LINK to the article in the Cheboygan Daily Tribune.

May 28: Researchers have genetically sequenced the secondary tumors of 10 women who died from breast cancer and found that there are usually just two or three waves of migration from the original tumor. This knowledge will help researchers who are looking to stop the cells from spreading in the first place. Here’s the LINK to the article in NewScientist.

May 29: Upending previous research that suggested the opposite, a new UK study shows that night shift work does NOT increase the risk of breast cancer. The study analyzed 102,869 women over 10 years. Here’s a LINK to the story in The Guardian.

, May 23, 2019 | More Post by

Amber (far left) with volunteers Sami and Annalee and H4TG Events and Development Manager, Amanda.

Amber (pictured at far left) is the Here for the Girls Bookkeeper + Office Manager. 

I am here for the girls because this is more than just a job for me. Though I do have lots of numbers to enter, every time a donation comes through in honor, and unfortunately sometimes in memory, of our ladies, they are on my mind! After attending the 2019 Renew Restore Retreat, I finally got to meet a lot of the women that we serve and was able to put faces to the names I see continually.

Even in our busiest times, I just take a deep breath and remember why we are doing it!

– Amber

, May 14, 2019 | More Post by

48, diagnosed at 42
No family history
No known genetic mutation
Mona, an assistant supervisor, felt a lump in her breast three months after her annual mammogram. After having a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound, she was advised to wait six months, that it was likely a cyst. Her vigilant doctor wouldn’t wait that long, and further testing eventually revealed stage 2 breast cancer. Insurance issues caused additional delays, and eight months after finding the lump, Mona underwent chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. She relates to her character, Maleficent, a villain and hero whose bitter heart is healed by love. Mona says, “The darkness that overshadowed my life during treatment faded thanks to the constant love, support, and encouragement from family and friends who gave me the strength I needed to change my grief to hope.” She loves the expression, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way,” adding, “I can’t do anything about yesterday, but I can make the most of today and ask God to bless me with another tomorrow.” Before her diagnosis she saw cancer as a death sentence. Now she sees it as a second chance to fill her tomorrows with the joy she experiences from time spent with her husband, daughter, and grandchildren and travel to new places, especially on cruises ships.

, April 11, 2019 | More Post by

Ashley, 31, diagnosed at 24,

No family history, No known genetic mutation

Ashley, a program coordinator, could claim what no one would want to and most could not – being a two-time cancer survivor by age 24. She was just 16 when she faced melanoma. Eight years later she found a lump in her breast. When it persisted, she went to her doctor who referred her to a surgeon, even after a mammogram revealed nothing. The surgeon did not suspect cancer, but eventually discovered malignant cells within a non-cancerous tumor. Diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), Stage 0 breast cancer, Ashley had a lumpectomy and radiation while working full-time and attending college. Beyond Boobs! Texas was not around back then, but now they are, and she says, “I am six years out from diagnosis, but I still need these ladies in my life! I want other women to know we are here to help them get through this journey.” Ashley believes the tagline from the modern-day tale of Cinderella, “have courage and be kind,” are words to live by. She knows, like the character she portrays, courage and kindness will help you get past life’s challenges while being a beacon of light and hope for others. Ashley’s happily ever after now includes a fiancé and dreams of family.

, March 12, 2019 | More Post by

Our “A Calendar to Live By” features survivors we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring, uplifting stories about their cancer journey. Get to know this month’s model, Laura!

Laura, 52, diagnosed at 49

1st degree family history

No genetic testing

Laura noticed an itchy area on her left breast and weeks later, felt a lump there. Testing revealed Stage 2 lobular breast cancer, and Laura underwent chemotherapy, a mastectomy with reconstruction, and radiation. Recently divorced with no other family nearby, Laura gratefully accepted the attentive caregiving of her 15- and 20-year-old daughters, along with their love, strength, laughter, and hugs. The importance of family is interwoven into the story of her life, even her profession. As an adoption coordinator, she’s responsible for creating families. It’s no wonder that The Little Match Girl, told to her by her great-grandmother, is one Laura remembers. The Little Match Girl uses matches for warmth and to recall images of the loving grandmother who brought her comfort in desperate times. Laura says, “The pieces of the story that resonate with me are about family; those who love you and keep you warm. You hold them close to your heart and have them with you always, even when apart.” Thanks to her eldest daughter who knew a member of Beyond Boobs, Laura now has additional family – her Beyond Boobs! sisters. Laura hopes her story shows that your life story is richer when it includes family.

, February 12, 2019 | More Post by

Our “A Calendar to Live By” features survivors we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring, uplifting stories about their cancer journey. Get to know this month’s model, Vanessa!

45, diagnosed at 43

2nd degree relative with breast cancer

No known genetic mutation

A wife, mother of three, and housing director, Vanessa had been getting annual mammograms since age 29 (when a benign lump was removed), and supplementary ultrasounds due to “lumpy” breasts had become routine. This time, however, the radiologist was called in for a “peek,” and a biopsy two weeks later found malignant cells. Vanessa opted for a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction and chemotherapy to treat her stage 1 breast cancer. She recalls being comforted by the images in the calendar she received in the mail from H4TG upon diagnosis. “The women were around my age – they were smiling and surviving. That calendar gave me hope.” She soon learned that her daughter’s day care director (Ms. August 2019) was a member of Beyond Boobs! Virginia became a lifeline and best friend and gave her the bracelet with the words that Vanessa tattooed on her wrist, “Live Brave.” Like her character Rapunzel, when Vanessa lost her hair, she gained insight, strength, and freedom. “It’s hard to even remember who I was before…yet it is too soon to know who exactly I am now. I do know after fighting cancer, I feel I can take on the world, and I want to empower other women to fight cancer on their own terms.”

, January 10, 2019 | More Post by

Our “A Calendar to Live By” features survivors we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring, uplifting stories about their cancer journey. Get to know this month’s model, Michelle!

49, diagnosed at 43

1st degree family history; no known genetic mutation

An itch led Michelle to find the lump in her left breast, but there was a five-week delay before this environmental planner, mother of three, and wife could be seen for testing. Mammography revealed nothing; however, ultrasound showed a 5.1 cm mass that a biopsy confirmed as malignant. Treatment for her stage 3A Her2+ breast cancer included a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, chemotherapy, and radiation. During that time, Michelle not only experienced a rare, life-threating reaction, but also her mother, a breast cancer survivor, died of colon cancer. Michelle realized then how much she wanted to live. She says, “Like Sleeping Beauty, I was bestowed many gifts by the good fairies, but I was sleeping through life. I was a busy working mom who wasn’t appreciating my blessings. I put off so many things for later instead of living now; never considering that we aren’t promised a tomorrow. Cancer was both a blessing and a curse as I awakened from my ‘sleep’ and learned to be present and live more fully and gratefully.  I no longer put off those trips or activities with family and friends. My fairy tale now is about enjoying the little moments and blessings that life has bestowed upon me.”