PORTLAND, Ore. — A Vancouver nonprofit that helps thousands of breast cancer patients just received a huge grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, which will help the organization grow to meet the rising need.
Pink Lemonade Project has been around for more than a decade. The organization has a number of programs that help with the psychological, emotional and financial needs of breast cancer patients. The grant is worth just over $151,000.
Susan Stearns is the CEO of Pink Lemonade Project and a breast cancer survivor.
"The Murdock grant will now help us expand our staff so we can sustain these programs and help more people all over Oregon and Southwest Washington," Stearns said.
In 2021, the organization helped over 1,750 breast cancer patients, which is a 55% increase from 2020, and this year the organization is expected to help more people.
Stearns said that during the pandemic, mammogram rates dropped.
"We are now looking at a wave of more advanced diagnoses getting identified later and requiring more aggressive treatment," Stearns said.
Lucy Beltran was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. She said she was in shock and immediately started looking for support groups. She found a Spanish-speaking support group with the Pink Lemonade Project.
"It was really hard to find something in my own language and culture," Beltran said. "When I found Pink Lemonade, I just felt like they really opened their arms."
Stearns said the grant is so important because they expect more deaths due to the delayed mammogram screenings throughout the pandemic, so it's very important to expand their programs now.
"Being around other people who have experienced breast cancer, other survivors ... the community support is essential," said Stearns.