, July 21, 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 the program team at support@hereforthegirls.org!

We are always striving for new ways to live our mission, so the program team tried something new this year. We hosted our first-ever retreat just for women living with stage IV breast cancer, and all we can say is WOW! The event was excellent and offered our women important information and extra support, but there is one moment that continued to touch the staff long after the event was over.

While seated in an intimate garden on the water with the peaceful sounds of the harp playing in the background, our attention was immediately grabbed when the harpist began singing, “H4TG, H4TG, provides love and support for me.” The women gathered even closer than before, wrapping their arms around each other in a way that said, “I understand what you are feeling like no one else can.” The feeling our women shared in this moment is one we will keep in our minds as we continue to find new ways to offer support to our women.

If you are a woman diagnosed with breast cancer under 51 and currently living with stage IV breast cancer, we encourage you to attend next year’s “You’re in Charge” retreat! Keep an eye out for more information in 2020.

, July 12, 2019 | More Post by

Raquel, 42, diagnosed at 36

1st degree family history; BRCA1 positive

Raquel, a military wife, mother of three, and office manager, was in the process of relocating the household when she felt a lump while showering. With a family history of breast cancer (mother, grandmother), she prepared for the worst but had to wait four months to be seen and to learn she had Stage 2 breast cancer. Her husband returned from deployment to help as she underwent a bilateral mastectomy, chemo, radiation, and total hysterectomy (after learning she had inherited a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, surprisingly from her father). When her reconstruction failed, she became a member of the “flat and fabulous” club. Following her diagnosis, Raquel ventured beyond the role of devoted homemaker to discover a successful career woman waiting in the wings. She says, “I have new confidence in myself. I own my space, and I am not afraid anymore.” A Disney fanatic, Raquel was thrilled to portray her favorite character, Snow White and relates to Snow’s nature – hard working, generous, nurturing, and very optimistic – and to Snow’s ability to laugh, sing, and dance through life’s hardships. “We are not defined by our circumstance – we define our circumstance,” is the theme of Raquel’s fairy tale.

, June 27, 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.

June 12: Findings from a recent study suggest that having an unhealthy microbiome, and the changes that occur within the tissue that are related to an unhealthy microbiome, may be early predictors of invasive or metastatic breast cancer. Read the full story in Medical News Today HERE.

June 13: A new study shows that U.S.-born black women have as much as a 46% higher risk of developing an aggressive “triple-negative” strain of breast cancer than women who emigrated to the U.S. from Eastern Africa, Western Africa or the Caribbean. Read the full story in US News and World Report HERE.

June 18: Researchers had a “Eureka!” moment recently as they managed to synthesize a powerful anticancer compound — scientists have been trying to achieve this feat for more than 3 decades and hadn’t been successful until now. Read the full Medical News Today article HERE.

June 27: New research suggests that early risers have a slightly reduced risk of developing breast cancer. For night owls and people who tend to sleep more than the usual seven to eight hours nightly, the analysis suggested a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. HealthDay News has the full story HERE.

, 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 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 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.”

Link