Our mission at Carolina Breast Friends is to embrace the breast cancer community in a positive environment. We provide resources and education through fellowship and mentoring during any point in the journey.
What does that look like in practice? Here's an inside view of a week in the life of the Pink House.
10:00AM Monday morning: The door to the Pink House opens and in walks a woman dressed in a business suit. She says, "I have just been told I have breast cancer--is there someone I can talk to?" Her concern is how to I tell her 12-year-old daughter she has breast cancer. Someone on our staff, who also happens to be a breast cancer Survivor, sits with her, listens, and offers some seasoned advice and support.
Noon that day: Our craft class fills the air with laughter. Updates are shared with each other and support echoes throughout the house as the group enjoys being together and understanding one another. Crafting is a productive excuse to gather for support.
Monday night: Two of our staff are at Davidson College speaking to students about breast cancer awareness and Carolina Breast Friends' mission.
Tuesday morning: Before our doors even officially open, the Strength Training class is taking place, led by a certified fitness instructor who is also a breast cancer Survivor.
Soon after they leave and the doors open for visitors, a woman arrives from the hospital still in her surgical cap with her husband and son in tow.
We wonder, curiously, what brought her to the Pink House straight from surgery, and her son explains she insisted on coming to the Pink House before they took her home. We listen, answer her questions, give her care supplies, and comfort both her and her family.
Tuesday afternoon: Just as a committee meeting wraps up, we hear a knock on the front door. We answer it and find that a woman has taken the bus to reach us, and she speaks only Spanish. We welcome her in and proceed to help her with mastectomy supplies and a prosthesis. Empathy and caring supercedes any language barrier, yet we are also able to tell her of the La Casa Rosada con Latinas group that meets monthly at the Pink House and whose meeting is coming up later that week.
Tuesday night: It's Survivors Night at the Pink House, and it is also Spa Night. The evening is our gift to survivors--a time to relax, celebrate and enjoy being pampered. The house is overflowing with 65 survivors and more than two dozen volunteers. Nails, hair, makeup and eyebrows are being done free of charge. Laughter, tears, hugs and gratefulness are abundant.
11:00 AM Wednesday: The dining room is filled with volunteers and staff planning a new program called "Be You, Be Beautiful" designed to help survivors feel good about their appearance even while undergoing treatment. Energy and ideas flow as we put together monthly programs for an entire year.
Wednesday afternoon: A staff member picks up line 3 for a question. The caller is 32 and has just learned her treatment for breast cancer is going to leave her infertile. She wants to discuss options for egg harvesting. She asks if we know anyone who is a breast cancer survivor who has harvested eggs and has used a surrogate to have a child. We tell her yes and then share about our 1:1 Mentoring Program.
If a Survivor is interested, we can match her or him with another survivor of similar age and diagnosis--a mentor--and they can share their experiences, insights, thoughts, fears and aspirations with each other. In this case, we knew we had a mentor with a 1-year-old child she had through a surrogate. We match them up that week.
Thursday night: La Casa Rosada con Latinas, our program for the Latina community is meeting, and the house is full of laughter, good food, support and bonding--all in Spanish. They video the evening to share with others online, and to our surprise the program is shared throughout South America.
Friday morning: A high school student stops by the Pink House asking to volunteer as part of her senior project focusing on breast cancer. As we listen to her story, we discover her mother died the previous year from breast cancer. Her mom's breast cancer was first diagnosed 17 years ago. She underwent surgery and chemotherapy before the doctors knew she was pregnant. Low and behold, the child she gave birth to was standing in front of us, and her mom had named her Miracle.
Friday afternoon: Three women--all new survivors--arrive at the Pink House within 5 minutes of each other. Three staff members stop what we are doing and work individually with each woman to address her needs. We all finish in our wig room, where a variety of wigs and scarves are free for Survivors. Laughter fills the house as the women get to know one another and offer feedback on which wigs work best.
5:00PM Friday: As we are about to close the doors to the Pink House for the week, a Survivor walks in and says, "I was here five years ago and you all helped me so much. Now I've been diagnosed with a recurrence of my breast cancer, and I need your help and support again." We say, "We understand. Come on in and let's see how we can help."
And so ends a typical week at a very special place.
To learn more about our programs and services, cliick here.