Uniquely among Bay Area nonprofits, HERS Breast Cancer Foundation provides post-surgical products and services to breast cancer survivors regardless of financial status and whether or not they have insurance. For patients with insurance, it provides billing services so that they may concentrate on what matters most: their healing process. For patients in need, the foundation provides products and services directly.
The nonprofit's goal is to support all individuals healing from breast cancer by bringing Hope, Empowerment, Renewal, and Support to patients every day. Patients receive support camisoles, pocketed bras, and breast prosthetics from the foundation's WE Support, YOU Survive program. Hair With Care gives wigs and other head coverings to individuals experiencing hair loss. The Lymphedema Project offers compression garments to alleviate the pain, swelling, and other symptoms caused as a side effect of removing lymph nodes during cancer treatment.
Recently, for example, a patient with a failed breast reconstruction received help from the foundation. "Her appearance was noticeably asymmetrical which caused her to feel extremely self-conscious and depressed," says Executive Director Tina Fernandez Steckler. "The trained Breast Care Specialist who provided an assessment and fit consultation also noted that the patient was developing lymphedema, a condition that occurs in about 30-40% of patients who have had cancer-involved lymph nodes removed and/or have had lymph node damage caused by radiation treatment. Our patient was very pleased with the outcome of her appointment; the bras and breast form she received helped balance her appearance, and she returned to HERS for compression garments once she was seen by her physician."
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than white women, notes the CDC, which points out that men can also get breast cancer, although that is rare. An estimated one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime; for men, the rate is 1 in 1,000.
The foundation's People with Purpose event will return to an in-person gala celebration on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at Casa Bella in Sunol, California. Meanwhile, the foundation is kicking off national Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October with its 22nd annual Walk/Run/Yoga fundraiser to benefit underserved patients. The fundraiser begins on Saturday, September 25, with a limited-registration in-person event in Pleasanton that includes a Bollywood dance warm up, a delicious boxed breakfast, and generous giveaway bags.
Registered walkers and runners may complete their virtual 5K walk or 5K to 10K run any time between September 25 and October 31. Registered supporters who choose the all-levels yoga session may join in via videoconference on September 25. The Pleasanton event will be live streamed via the foundation's YouTube channel from 9 am to 11 am. Virtual participants will receive a commemorative bib and awareness band by mail.
"Private donations are critical to ensure that we may continue our work, as are sponsors for our two major events, People with Purpose and our Walk/Run/Yoga fundraiser," notes Fernandez Steckler. "Whether it's a one-time gift, an event sponsorship, or attending our events, their support will benefit our Assistance Programs so that we may continue to serve breast cancer patients in need."
The HERS location at Hacienda was established in 2015 in partnership with Stanford Health Care - ValleyCare, which donated the space to bring products and services from HERS to residents of the Tri-Valley and surrounding communities. HERS was originally founded in Fremont; a third location opened in San Leandro in early 2019.
For more information about HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, please visit hersbreastcancerfoundation.org or call 925-416-6738.
To register for the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation's 22nd annual Walk/Run/Yoga fundraiser, please visit hersbreastcancerfoundation.org/walk-run.
For more information about People with Purpose, please visit hersbreastcancerfoundation.org/people-with-purpose.