No one thinks they’ll need Carolina Breast Friends. Cancer is not something we often wait for or anticipate with a list of resources. Even if there’s a family history, any diagnosis,can feel like a gut punch out of nowhere, and many may frantically Google for lifelines. Thus, Carolina Breast Friends wants to let people know beforehand that they are located right near both major healthcare centers at The Pink House at 1607 East Morehead Street.
The Pink House, often described by breast cancer survivors, as “a safe place to land” is truly a haven after someone receives a cancer diagnosis or endures a difficult treatment day; it is the dream realized of CBF Founder Kristy Adams-Ebel who started gathering people in churches and people’s homes in 2003, to share breast cancer survivor hacks, humor and support, always yearning for an actual space to meet. She was a dynamic person and her desire became the passion of a core group of survivors and friends to make Kristy’s dream - a sanctuary for breast cancer survivors - a reality.
The Pink House opened its doors in 2010, furthering CBF’s mission and focus to provide support and care for breast cancer survivors, making sure until there’s a cure, there’s care. Carolina Breast Friend’s focus is unique in that it is really the only organization in the area, the state, maybe even the whole region who is not working on better treatments or a cure but primarily easing the journey right now of men and women experiencing breast cancer, and Share Charlotte is proud to partner with them to spread the word that anyone is welcome at The Pink House, whether they are newly diagnosed or in remission for 20 years.
CBF now serves more than 2000 Charlotte-area breast cancer survivors. Each day CBF greets at least one new survivor to The Pink House, many arriving wanting to get their feet underneath them. Even if they may walk out the door...even if they come to a session months later or never again, the house itself is an available respite CBF provides for what any breast cancer survivor may need.
Most recently, an engaged 20-something found out she has Stage IV metastasized breast cancer. After deciding to move her wedding date up, she told her Nurse Navigator who then contacted CBF to help her find the exact head covering for the bride-to-be to wear as she walked down the aisle. This type of creativity to help breast cancer survivors through challenging moments is a hallmark of the support CBF offers. Toward that end, they offer three categories of service, and Share Charlotte is proud to partner with them to ensure breast cancer survivors are cared for, supported and mentored in whatever areas they need.
The three categories of service are:
- Programs: Well Being, Support, Nutrition, Education, Self Image - 30 sessions per month are offered about everything from reconstructive surgery to CBD oil; physical fitness or yoga; there are even healthy cooking classes taught by a chef in the Pink House kitchen. They also offer Be You, Be Beautiful, which includes help and advicefor hair and skin since both can change due to hormone therapies; even wig and scarf styling for those who have lost their hair. Pam Young, Director of Communication explained to me, “it’s so much more than cosmetic. It’s about survivor’s sense of self. The whole experience of breast cancer is so unsettling, and this is one way survivors can learn to continue to invest in themselves.” Paul Mitchell School and Denise Antonnaci Salon are fabulous partners in the e You, Be beautiful program.
- Mentoring: 1-on-1 Mentoring relationships are one of the most bonding experiences CBF offers. This 1-on-1 Mentoring program is often joked about as Match.com for breast cancer survivors… CBF finds survivors a mentor who have already experienced or are further along in their experience of the same type of cancer and often similar procedures, so the newly diagnosed survivor can learn and ask questions about what is ahead on his or her journey. This can be phone calls only or some form life-long bonds, whatever the person needs. So many of the women and men who feel so good about the experience and about us and part of their empowerment to give back that they want to help others with the same cancer hurdles.
- Support: Part of supporting a breast cancer survivor through their journey is offering them the items they need. CBF offers chemotherapy comfort bags to help ease the long treatment days , as well as jars full of inspirational quotes made by other breast cancer survivors. They also have a wig room where survivors can come and select a wig or head scarf, free of charge.
If you are interested in also partnering with Carolina Breast Friends, they especially need people to help package the chemotherapy comfort bags and sort through the wig room, but they have many events throughout the year like their Pink Boots Ball where they can use volunteers as well. Please contact Leslie Verner, Director of Programming and Volunteering at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you want to be involved in helping care for breast cancer survivors.