The mission of the Breast Cancer Alliance is to improve survival rates and quality of life for those impacted by breast cancer through better prevention, early detection, treatment and cure. To promote these goals, we invest in innovative research, breast surgery fellowships, regional education, dignified support and screening for the underserved.
The Breast Cancer Alliance was founded in March 1996 by Mary Waterman. Diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, Mary knew that her chances for long-term survival were not good. She wanted to help other women fight breast cancer through research, health education, and most importantly early detection. Mary died in January 1997. Her courage and determination are a continuing inspiration to us all.
The Breast Cancer Alliance is a fast-growing, dynamic organization. We have awarded over $20 million in grants since our founding. Our primary fundraiser, an annual luncheon and fashion show, co-sponsored by Richards of Greenwich/Mitchells of Westport is a major charitable event attended by nearly 1,000 contributors. A prestigious roster of businesses and private foundations provides generous financial support. Contributions from individuals continue to escalate. This stellar performance in fundraising allows the Breast Cancer Alliance to provide increasingly large sums to support vital, cutting-edge breast cancer research each year and to expand our educational programs.
“I am so grateful for the grant from the Breast Cancer Alliance that allowed me to become a certified lymphedema therapist! The knowledge and experience I gained from the course is invaluable, and has allowed me to better serve many patients in need of lymphedema therapy services. The patients with lymphedema that I have had the wonderful opportunity of working with are so grateful for the education and therapy that I have provided them with. Thank you to the Breast Cancer Alliance for your grant which has helped me pursue lymphedema and impact the lives of those in need of lymphedema therapy!”
- Course participant, Training Program for Health Professionals in Complex Decongestive Therapy to Treat Patients with Secondary Lymphedema, Sacred Heart University
H.A., mother of a 12 and 14 year old, accompanied a friend to Norwalk Hospital to learn about the process of getting a routine mammogram, as well as programs available for the medically underserved. She met Zarek, who made great strides in connecting H.A. with services that ultimately gave her a new outlook on life, thanks to a grant supporting breast patient navigation at the Smilow Family Breast Health Center from the Breast Cancer Alliance.
After having a mammogram and ultrasound, H.A. was referred for a biopsy. Soon after the diagnosis of breast cancer, Amelia underwent surgery with Dr. Jeanne Capasse, Norwalk Hospital’s director of Surgical Breast Health.
“I cannot thank Zarek enough for caring so much, being so diligent through the entire process and connecting me with help. She overcame all the obstacles, such as language, finances and insurance,” said H.A. “I am grateful that my breast cancer was diagnosed early so that I can continue to be there for my young children.” She continued, “I love my children and I need to be here for them. I am now a cancer survivor. I continue to be a caregiver for my family, but I am also taking better care of myself. Life changes a lot when you survive cancer.”
- Breast cancer survivor, Norwalk Hospital/Whittingham Cancer Center
The Patient Navigator received a call from a young woman (42), a mother and part-time teacher, who’d felt a lump but didn’t have insurance. She was reviewed for financial need and seen by a doctor. Her ultrasound images looked very suspicious, and he biopsied her immediately. Unfortunately she does have breast cancer for which she is taking chemotherapy treatments. She had a very aggressive tumor and was first scheduled for surgery, but the tumor growth was so rapid that the oncologists and surgeons opted for chemotherapy first. Her medical services are being paid through grant funds, thanks to foundations like Breast Cancer Alliance. Grant funds will also pay for her support services. The Navigator is also securing help with rent and other bills incurred outside of treatment.
- Norma F. Pfriem Breast Center, Bridgeport, CT
Mobile Mammography has a strong presence in five counties in Connecticut. Although we focus more on the Greater Hartford area, one of the goals in 2014 was to expand to more rural areas of the state. This goal possibly contributed to having a higher than average number of breast cancers diagnosed over the past year than in previous years since we provided access to mammography for women who had not had mammograms. The Mobile Mammography program expanded in 2014 to Windham County. We partnered with our East Region affiliate hospitals, Backus Hospital and Windham Hospital. A screening day was held at Windham High School to offer mammograms in the community. We screened 21 patients, 16 of whom were uninsured.
One of the patients screened that day told the staff that she doesn’t regularly go in for screenings since she doesn’t have the time or transportation to go to an imaging center. She was very grateful to hear that the coach was in her community, specifically, at the high school that her daughter attends. She is uninsured and Breast Cancer Alliance funds were used to cover her mammogram costs. Her mammogram showed abnormal findings and she was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer. She is currently receiving care at our affiliate hospital, which is convenient for her. In addition, she was enrolled in the Connecticut Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which has covered the cost of her care. Her cancer was found early as a result of Mobile Mammography’s availability, and we look forward to hearing that she will have a successful outcome. The patient was very appreciative of the service she received, especially since financial burdens had been a continuing disincentive to screening for her.
- “Take the Time” Mobile Mammography, Hartford Hospital