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.
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.
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.
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.
Expanding the Mission Through New Workshops
We started in Oregon as a single entity, but with the launch of affiliates in Florida and Pennsylvania Breast Friends is becoming the premiere support organization for women with breast, ovarian and other women’s cancers with presence across the country.
In 2012, our focus will be to reach new patients across the country by developing and delivering two new workshops: H.O.P.E., Helping Others Provide Empathy, and Thriving Beyond Cancer.
The H.O.P.E. workshop is for three-hour program for women who are newly diagnosed with cancer. This is an opportunity for them to bring their spouse, children, or other significant person who is likely to accompany them on their journey to a workshop where we will discuss the role that each person will play. We will talk about the importance of support, as well as provide ideas and tips on how the friends and family members can care for their loved one through the journey. We also recognize that those closest to the patient are often impacted. Our workshop will talk about how a family can reach out and receive support from others.
The Thriving workshop is a two day workshop for women who are done with their treatment and ready to move on to the next phase of their lives, but feel stuck. This workshop will provide them with the tools they need to move onto a new life after cancer. Past participants have shared the life changing impact that they felt from attending the program.
For more information about attending a workshop, or becoming a sponsor or host for a workshop, please contact Becky or Sharon at 888-386-8048.
“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)
email@example.com – Program Development – Patient Services
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14050 SW Pacific Hwy, Suite 201
Tigard, OR 97224
1309 S. Babcock #148
Melbourne, FL 32901
321.474.6900 or 321-474-4159
P.O. Box 935
Stroudsburg, PA 18360
321.236.3721 or 321.236.3722