In 2009, at the young age of thirty-nine, I was reminded by my childhood friend Shelley Sakala, with a playful posting on Facebook to perform a self-breast exam. I did and discovered a lump that turned out to be breast cancer. I was very fortunate in finding my cancer in the early stages and was able to save my breasts and, more importantly, my life.
I endured nine months of treatment, including two surgeries, 4 months of chemotherapy and 2 months of radiation, During that time my family and me were showered with kindness, compassion and generosity by our community. We had meals delivered to our home for weeks at a time by friends and strangers. We had friends show up at our doorstep with yellow gloves on ready to scrub our floors. We had neighbors bring by wigs, cards, flowers, and people offering to help with our kids. Not only did I have my physical community but I had an online community on Facebook as well. There was always someone cheering me on and cheering me up when I was at my lowest moments.
I was so grateful for every act of kindness that I decided I wanted to do something to give back to my community. I must give God this credit as well, as I felt like he was pushing me on to a path that He wanted me to follow. I also wanted to ensure that I was leaving a legacy that my daughters could be proud of just-in-case . . . and so with the help of another childhood friend, Kate Kunberger, I started Check for a Lump. Our mission was simple. We wanted to motivate other women to perform breast self-exams in the hopes of detecting breast cancer in the early stages.
Shortly after our non-profit was founded we discovered that our foundation had great potential. We chose to implement a second program with our funds to directly assist breast cancer patients. Our Wig Out program provides free wigs to women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment in Arizona.
As time went on we continued to educate ourselves and, in doing so, discovered the need for education regarding prevention of breast cancer in our community. We have taken our educational outreach program to the next level with the help of our sponsors, community grants and supporters. We have also formed great relationships with other non-profits, hospitals, doctors, and breast cancer related businesses in our community in order to more efficiently achieve our goals.
In the short amount of time we have been in existence, we have established our foundation as a prominent figure in the breast cancer community. We could not have achieved any of this with out the amazing support of our family, friends, and community. Continually, I’m overwhelmed by the generous acts of kindness that surrounds us. I’m also forever grateful for the path that God has placed me upon. Thank you everyone for your support!
Together we are making a difference!
Live and Give,