Helping Women Survive the Trauma of Cancer, One Friend at a Time
Breast Friends is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for female cancer patients. Our organization teaches friends and family specific ways to offer support, helps them understand what their loved one is going through, and suggests resources for the woman and for those who care about her. A number of programs developed by Breast Friends have proven valuable in assisting and reassuring the patient, her friends and family.
Breast Friends believes that no woman should go through the cancer experience alone; unfortunately, it happens. We find that even women with friends and family nearby often fail to receive the kind of emotional, spiritual or physical support they really need. Our programs are designed to aid in making sure proper support is given and received. Every woman in America will be touched by breast or other women’s cancers in her lifetime. One in eight women will be diagnosed, and the other seven will know her. Our goal is to reach the seven in order to help the one.
The Beginning of Breast Friends…Because We Understand
Co-founders Becky Olson and Sharon Henifin are honored to share their stories, and hope you will find support and comfort in the work to which they have dedicated their lives: Helping women survive the trauma of cancer…one friend at a time. Both are cancer survivors. They became acquainted in 1991 as co-workers at a corporation in Portland, Oregon. In 1993, Sharon was the first in their circle of friends to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Becky received her first diagnosis three years later, in 1996.
During the next few years and through their own experiences, both women realized that friends, though well-intentioned, were unsure of how to help. As a result, Becky and Sharon often found themselves feeling isolated and afraid, as though they were fighting the disease alone.
In August, 2000, the women met for lunch and discussed starting a nonprofit to benefit breast cancer patients by teaching their friends and family how to offer appropriate help. They chose the name “Breast Friends,” registered it with the state of Oregon, and started to work establishing a website. With great pride, they opened a bank account with two $50.00 checks from their first speaking engagement. In 2001, the fledgling organization received their 501(c)3 federal tax exemption. Breast Friends, with the mission “helping women survive the trauma of breast cancer… one friend at a time,” was truly underway.
Growing to Help Reduce Fear
In 2004, Breast Friends received its first grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure. They have received some level of funding from Komen every year since. Komen partnered with Breast Friends in 2005, inviting them to chair their Co-Survivor Initiative in Oregon at Race for the Cure®, a position Breast Friends held for over five years.
To date, the Breast Friends’ website has received over one million visits, and the numbers keep growing. The original site was honored by healingwell.com with the prestigious Editor’s Choice Award. E-mails, letters and phone calls arrive daily from all areas of the country. Some people ask for assistance in handling their difficult treatments, others offer to help through the “Volunteer Match Program,” and others indicate an interest in establishing affiliate chapters in their cities.
As the organization grows the dream of helping thousands of women survive their breast cancer journey grows as well. In 2009, Breast Friends launched its first affiliate in Florida. The second affiliate was launched in 2012 in Pennsylvania.
We are excited and looking forward to what lies ahead.
|Becky is a three-time breast cancer Survivor. She left her job as a sales manager for Dex Media in 2005 to pursue her role as Co-Founder of Breast Friends. Becky, a member of the National Speaker’s Association, has also developed her skills as a professional speaker and now travels all over the country sharing her experience and inspiring her audiences. She has also written a book, “The Hat That Saved My Life,” which was published in 2004 with a second printing in 2007.|
|Sharon was diagnosed in 1993. She was working as a sales rep for US West Direct (later becoming Dex Media). She took time off to take care of herself while raising two children. She helped co-found Breast Friends in 2000. During the early stages of running the organization, she was also promoted to Sales Manager and eventually a sales trainer for Dex Media. Finally in 2006, she left her job to work in her role as executive director and co-founder for Breast Friends.|
||Dianna was diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma insitu) in 2003. She started volunteering at Breast Friends in 2008-09. In January 2010, Dianna was offered the position as Office Manager for Breast Friends. which she promptly accepted. She has also taken on the daunting responsibility of office webmaster.|
|Angel is our Ovarian Cancer Liaison and has been a volunteer for Breast Friends since 2010. Angel is a 4-time Survivor of ovarian cancer. She is active in ovarian cancer advocacy and awareness, attending seminars and conferences locally and nationally to further her own knowledge on new drugs and treatments and to help other women with ovarian and other cancers.|
|Allison is our Volunteer Coordinator and has been a volunteer with Breast Friends since September 2013. Allison is a 9 year breast cancer survivor. Her husband and two teenage sons have recently relocated to Oregon from Connecticut and have enjoyed exploring the Northwest. She says that volunteering is a rewarding experience.
|Elizabeth is a patient services volunteer.
|Ginger is a patient services volunteer.
|Jeannette came to Breast Friends after reading an article in the paper about a retreat for women that were going through or gone through cancer treatment. As I read the article they mentioned Breast Friends and as a Survivor myself I thought I would reach out to them. A few weeks later I had an interview with Sharon and Becky and as they say the rest is history. I love that I am able to use what I learned in my job of 40 years to help them help so many. Jeannette volunteers weekly in the office.
|Linda is a breast cancer Survivor since 2010. As a volunteer she strives to always be available to help women experiencing breast cancer and following treatment. Having spoken about her experience at the Joy of Life Fundraiser and Survivor Luncheon Linda is very passionate about Breast Friends and it’s mission to help cancer patients. Linda is also a newly elected 2014 board member.
(picture coming) Nancy Harrington
|Nancy is a Survivor of both ovarian and breast cancer. Nancy has been a volunteer with Breast Friends since 2007. She works in the office and at several of our events throughout the year. She is always willing to help wherever there is a need. She is a real “go-getter” when it comes to finding donations. She is also a generous donor to Breast Friends.|
Breast Friends was founded in 2000. We continue to grow our programs and services and have helped thousands of women and their families since our inception. We are on a slow growth as we launch affiliates in various locations. We launched Florida in 2009, and Pennsylvania in 2012.
Breast Cancer and Social Security Disability Benefits
by Molly Clarke
Writer for Social Security Disability Help Blog
Molly works to promote disability awareness and assist individuals throughout the application process for disability benefits. Contact Molly at email@example.com.
In the weeks after being diagnosed with breast cancer, you and your loved ones are likely to be focused on the immediate future—scheduling appointments, figuring out treatment options, and coming to terms with your diagnosis. While these are all vital to your health and recovery, you should also plan for the future, financially.
Leaving work to deal with a serious health condition can cause significant monetary strain. If you find yourself facing these circumstances, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Although the process of applying for disability benefits can be long and complicated, the financial support is often a necessary lifeline for many people. Read more…
What do you do when you learn you have cancer?
Lake Oswego Review
Friday, May 17, 2013
by Mikel Kelly
One of our culture’s most enduring homilies has to do with a beverage.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When the “lemon” in question is the news that you have cancer, that can be a huge challenge. News like that has a way of stomping around in your brain, crashing into things, knocking stuff over — and certainly (because you’re pretty sure you’ve just been handed a death sentence) making it hard to concentrate on even the simplest of things.
I received that news on June 15, 2000, from a physician assistant named Joe at a Kaiser Permanente clinic next door to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Beaverton. My wife and I were there to learn the results of a biopsy he had conducted a few days earlier. Of the six samples of tissue taken from my walnut-size prostate, he said, five tested positive.
Scappoose High School Donates Movie Night Proceeds
Two Scappoose High Seniors, Ashley Oyler & Jillian Werderber, dropped by Breast Friends and gave us a surprise donation from a movie night they and some of the other students Scott Johnson, Chyna Williams & Tia Carnahan planned at their high school last month. It’s a great example how everyone can make a difference. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful donation.
Trustees in Support of the Mission
Breast Friends’ governing body is made up of a national board including the two co-founders, executive officers, and board members who also oversee the Oregon Affiliate. We also have Local Advisory Boards in each other affiliate location. To see the local affiliate board members, please visit each affiliate page separately.
Letter to Sharon after a prosthesis fitting:
“Hello Sharon, I didn’t realize how badly I was broken – until I met you!! I want to thank you for giving me back my body and more importantly my spirit. I am so proud of myself now. I don’t hide beneath my clothes! I am not awkward or self-conconsious. What you’ve given me is pricelss! Thank you!”
~ Carolyn from Beaverton
Breast Cancer Survivor
“I just wanted to say thank you for all of your support, kind wishes, and for sending me such a lovely “Welcome to the Sisterhood” packet. I love the hat, the hankie and especially the wonderful list of ideas that you included for family and friends. You are truly a wonderful organization, and I thank you for dedicating your time, and energy to such a good cause. Please know your efforts are greatly appreciated.”
~Fran from NY
Breast Cancer Survivor
“I am so very thankful for the support I receive from Breast Friends. From day one, they have been there for me. This is the best breast cancer support organization I have ever met. The people are so caring and supportive and even take the initiative to follow up with me to make sure I’m doing okay every step of the way. They make me feel like I am part of their family — so sincere and helpful, and when I’m feeling afraid or just want someone to talk to, a compassionate voice is just a phone call away. I feel so blessed to have found Breast Friends!”
~Sue from Wisconsin
Breast Cancer Survivor
I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for the love and kindness you’ve showed me since I first wandered in (nearly 2 years ago!). You have helped me take the ugliness that is BRCA and turn it into a thing of beautiful relationships. You’ve helped me conquer my fear, hugged me on bad days, visited the doctor with me, and done so many other little things. I will never forget what you’ve done or the inspiration you’ve been. People ask how I’m coping so well with my BRCA and all I have to say are two words: “Breast Friends.” I love you all.
|Write Us:||Breast Friends
14050 SW Pacific Hwy, Suite 201
Tigard, OR 97224
|Call Us:||888.386.8048(Toll Free)
866.734.3762 (Toll Free Fax)
Hope Chest (subscribe)
14050 SW Pacific Hwy, Suite 201
Tigard, OR 97224
1103 Hibiscus Blvd Ste 306
Melbourne, FL 32901
321.474.6900 or 321-474-4159
P.O. Box 935
Stroudsburg, PA 18360
321.236.3721 or 321.236.3722