Breast cancer is cruel and medical costs can make it even more terrifying.
Thank God for an organization called My Hope Chest, a unique, non-profit group that helps fund breast reconstruction surgery for cancer survivors with little or no insurance.
Nearly 22,000 women each year lose one or both breasts to cancer. Many are uninsured or under-insured and unable to receive immediate reconstruction following a mastectomy. That’s heartbreaking.
Our staff here at Totally Promotional recently worked with My Hope Chest members on their promotional needs and learned about their life-altering mission. What an eye-opener!
“Most people don’t realize how many women out there are living without breasts after a mastectomy,” said Alisa Savoretti, who founded My Hope Chest in 2003. “People don’t even know it’s an issue.”
Savoretti experienced the problem first-hand. She was 38 and a Las Vegas Showgirl without insurance when diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy, but returned to the stage five months later as the “Lop-Sided Showgirl.” She had to wait nearly three years before undergoing breast reconstruction.
I can only imagine the courage it takes for women without breast reconstruction to look in the mirror every day and be reminded of the dreadful disease that attacked their body.
Savoretti said many of her My Hope Chest clients have health insurance but their high deductibles and whopping co-pay amounts prevent them from pursuing breast reconstruction surgery.
The reconstruction process typically involves a series of three procedures and costs from $25,000 to $50,000 at a cash pay rate, she said.
My Hope Chest currently is able to help seven to 10 people per year. Savoretti is trying to raise public awareness and donations to bring healing to the hundreds on their waiting list. The group receives about five new patient applications each week.
Millions of dollars each year are given to big cancer organizations who are seeking a cure for breast cancer or paying costs associated with treatment. But none of that money helps pay for breast reconstruction surgery — the “final step” in cancer treatment, Savoretti noted.
“The largest funder of breast cancer research is, oddly enough, the Department of Defense,” she said.
The DOD each year allocates $150 million toward a cure for breast cancer. Savoretti said she is working to channel some of that money to women who can’t afford breast reconstruction.
The positive effects women gain after undergoing breast reconstruction are priceless. Frank J. DellaCroce, MD., F.A.C.S., of the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery, New Orleans, La., offered this unique insight at breastcancer.org:
“I continue to be humbled by the impact this work has, both on the women we take care of and those who are near and dear to them,” he said. “The effects of breast reconstruction have the capacity to transcend the surgical techniques, providing the final link in the circle of treatment, a return to wholeness, and an overall sense of recovery.”
The goal of My Hope Chest is:
- Restore self-esteem and dignity to breast cancer survivors.
- Raise public awareness about the need for breast reconstruction as a part of cancer treatment.
- Implement laws that require insurance companies to pay for mammograms or MRIs for women starting at age 35, and age 30 for those with a family history of the disease.
- Educate within school systems the importance of self-exams from an early age.
Donations to My Hope Chest can be made by clicking here.
The organization several years ago started a Hope Floats program to encourage businesses, civic groups, churches and others to take action for the cause. Suggested fundraising events include golf tournaments, fashion shows, employee dress-down days and raffles. Learn more and/ or register here.
Anyone interested in volunteering for My Hope Chest can send an email to [email protected] or call 727-488-0320.
Read about other ways the team at Totally Promotional is making a difference by visiting the Totally Giving Back web page.