This is not a question we tend to ask ourselves in our thirties. Jen Pagani didn't have a choice. Shortly after having her second son, Jen was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer—an aggressive form of the disease that she fought with the same tenacity she'd brought to two Ironman Triathlons. Her fighting spirit gave her more than six years to spend with her two boys and her soulmate and husband Joe. It also gave us the Go Jen Go Foundation.
Far too often, there is more than one battle that comes with a cancer diagnosis. It is not just the cancer that a patient is up against, it’s everything that comes along with it. Yes, there is the obvious physical and emotional toll, but it’s also the financial curveball that cancer throws patients and their families as well.
Take breast cancer survivor Tammy Greene, for example. Tammy grew concerned about her health after discovering a lump on her breast. She knew she needed to get the lump checked out, but in addition to her fear of a diagnosis was a fear of how to pay for a mammogram, let alone a battle with cancer.
"Someone is going to do something for the babies."
That's how Sonja Chisholm reassured a mom in her Gracious Hands transitional housing program who was worried that her kids would have a Christmas with no presents under the tree.
Gracious Hands provides temporary shelter while educating, encouraging and empowering women with children to attain a brighter future economically, socially and spiritually. Up to five women and their children are able to live in the comfortable home provided by "Miss Sonja," so they can get back on their feet and find self-sufficiency.
Amanda Ruiz knows there's no "perfect time" to start going after your dreams. All she wanted was a college degree, but life kept throwing obstacles in her path. Her father suffered permanent brain damage after being assaulted, and her mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor that same year. Meanwhile, Amanda was dealing with her own health issues on top of it all.
At age 18, she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease—an illness with no cure and potentially life-threatening complications. All of these health problems wiped out the family's savings and forced Amanda to drop out of East Carolina University. "We lost our house, boat, cars and any security I ever felt," says Amanda.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, all October long we are highlighting our nonprofit partners who work to provide resources to those affected by breast cancer as part of our monthly Spotlight Series.
Did you know? 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. This makes breast cancer the second most common cancer among women, coming in close behind skin cancer. To put it in perspective, on average, every two minutes another woman is diagnosed, every two minutes someone’s world is completely rocked.
The dictionary defines a gem as "a precious or semiprecious stone cut and polished for ornament." Another definition is "a highly prized or well-beloved person." Kendra Scott and her jewelry company value both of these definitions equally.
Creating timeless and broadly appealing jewelry is Kendra Scott's specialty, and the company excels at it. Just check out the "Caught you in your Kendra" posts on the @kendrascott Instagram account to see celebrities sporting Kendra Scott pieces.
Simplicity Organizers is a nationally recognized professional organizing company that helps people focus on what matters most. They know that “When we let go of the unimportant, we have more time to enjoy the things we love” or, in the case of many of the local nonprofits they have helped with their services, it allows them to have more time to deal with the bigger fish they have to fry.
“I can honestly say, I wouldn’t be the same person without Florence Crittenton. Without all the support, without the many shoulders I needed to hold onto, because, I was very young, raising my daughter, but one thing I can say is I was never alone.”
The above quote is from Lanitta, a Florence Crittenton graduate, from her interview on Fox 46 Charlotte. Bringing life into the world is an incredible experience for a woman. But, it can also be scary without the support of friends, family, and community. Florence Crittenton understands this and that’s why their services go beyond just pregnancy support to include post-birth support.
Nikkia Barkley has been working since she was 15. Even when she was working in restaurants and retail stores, she had a vision of doing something different. When she got accepted to the University of Miami, she planned on studying computer engineering.
She decided to decline her admission offer when she learned she was expecting. She didn't want to take her son away from his father, and she was the caretaker for her mom, who was often sick.
Fast-forward 20 years to the end of 2018. Nikkia and her husband had four more children, and, although he was disabled with liver issues, her husband did everything he could to support the family.
After three transplants, doctors told Nikkia's husband that there was nothing more they could do. That's when Nikkia and her husband had to start talking about a possible future without him.
Pregnant in college could mean a dream deferred. But instead of exploding dreams, the visionaries at Belmont Abbey College and MiraVia, have created a stopgap for pregnant students to not only help them finish college but to counsel them towards achieving short-term goals building to long-term goal-setting like financial independence and career plans. It’s not as technical as much as it is community; a community, in fact, where young mothers can still have dance parties in their pjs after nursing their infants and posting assignments after pulling overnighters...writing papers. MiraVia is about loving fully and well, being the Plan B for those reconsidering education after an unexpected pregnancy and opening their doors to shared resources with young moms.
We have so much great news to share from our nonprofit partners about their amazing work. But, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know if you have stories you'd like to tell and we'll make you a guest blogger!!