PORTLAND, Ore. — A cancer diagnosis can be earth-shattering and an often lonely fight. For the past two decades Breast Friends has made it their mission to ensure no woman walks that journey alone. However, like many nonprofit groups, the pandemic has them struggling to get the donations they need to continue their work.
Becky Olson knows how isolating a cancer diagnosis can be, even before adding a pandemic to the mix.
“So many people feel like they’re going through that alone,” Olson said.
Olson has battled breast cancer four times since 1996 and it’s back again. This time her cancer has metastasized, spreading to her lungs, bones, and liver.
Battle after battle, it doesn’t get any easier.
“I’d like to think I’m pretty strong and I’ve experienced about everything you can experience with this disease, but just having that person there that’s willing to pick up the phone and call me and just say, ‘Hey, thinking about you today, just wanted to check on you and see how you’re doing.’ It means a lot and now, especially with the coronavirus,” she said.
Olson has dedicated the past twenty years to making sure other women fighting the disease have that support too.
In 2000, alongside her friend and fellow cancer survivor Sharon Henifin, she started Breast Friends. Their mission on a mission to ensure that no woman goes through a cancer diagnosis alone.
“Our mission is twofold; teach the friends and family how to be supportive, but then also to provide one-on-one support for the patients because not all of them had friends and family to support them,” Olson said.
Right now, during this pandemic, that support is even more important.
“The risks are much higher than your average person who may encounter COVID but fight it off easily. For people like me – not so easy and that really gives you an extra sense of being alone.”
Olson and her team at Breast Friends are doing everything they can to provide that care remotely, but with the economic turmoil of the pandemic Breast Friends needs support too.
“We’re a grassroots organization. We’ve always relied on donations from just people – small donations, we don’t have the big deep pockets that some do,” Olson said.
They’ve had to cancel fundraiser after fundraiser because of COVID-19. And like many non-profit groups other donations are running thin.
So, they’re asking for the communities help with their 20 for 20 campaign: asking for a twenty-dollar donation to celebrate their 20th anniversary in the year 2020.
“If everyone did that, it’s $20 out of your pocket, and Breast Friends would be so happy,” Olson said. “It would really be helpful. That would probably help us accomplish what we need to do.”
They’re also adjusting their annual golf tournament, one of their biggest fundraisers, allowing participants to golf on their own time to raise money for their cause.
Breast Friends has been there for women for two decades. Now, they need your support to be there for women fighting breast cancer for the next twenty.
“Cancer doesn’t stop because of COVID and we don’t either. So, we’re going to keep going right on through it,” Olson said.
Learn more about Breast Friends and sign up for the golf tournament here.
Donate to the 20 for 20 campaign by texting Breast Friends to 41444 or click here.
Olson also hosts a Breast Friends Cancer Support Radio show, which you can listen to here.