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Making a Difference

Making a Difference

BCA-CV Offers Invaluable Breast Cancer Resources

Breast cancer affects everyone, whether one faces it as a personal journey or as a family member or friend offering a loved one caring support and encouragement. 

According to statistics, about one in eight U.S. women (about 12-percent) and one in 1,000 men develop invasive breast cancer within their lifetimes. In 2015, an estimated 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 60,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in U.S. women and approximately 2,350 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be discovered among U.S. men. Approximately 85-percent of breast cancers occur in women without family history of the disease. 

Thankfully, the Tri-State area community can turn to Breast Cancer Awareness of the Cumberland Valley (BCA-CV) for guidance and support through its many free programs and services. 

“We help patients through all stages of breast cancer,” relates Executive Director Janet Lung, a 15-year breast cancer survivor. “BCA-CV is here so no one faces breast cancer alone.” Begun in the early 1990s as a mobile office, BCA-CV is now located in Hager Park Professional Center and serves 1,700 Tri-State community members. 

BCA-CV offers mammograms and ultrasounds to those meeting designated income guidelines. “These are life-saving, early detection tools for those who may not have funds for these very important tests,” relates Janet. 

Janet, along with BCA-CV’s Community Liaison Debbie Kilgore and Administrative Assistant Diane Hockensmith, are all breast cancer survivors who assist and support those receiving initial breast cancer diagnoses through the Moving Forward Program. “We are all survivors here. That makes newly diagnosed patients comfortable. They realize we understand what they are facing and that we can empathize with them,” Janet explains. Newly diagnosed patients individually discuss personal concerns and are given the latest edition of the Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook and heart-shaped pillow. “The handbook is a great reference to help with questions relating to surgery and treatment options. It gives patients up-to-date information and helps open the lines of communication between those newly diagnosed and their doctors,” shares Janet.  

The organization also offers those experiencing diagnosis and treatment valuable support through its Angel Program and monthly support meetings. Angel Program volunteers send weekly cards of encouragement to newly diagnosed patients. “Great friendships have developed through this program. BCA-CV is always in need of Angels,” Janet states. Meetings at BCA-CV are held the second Monday monthly. “It’s a great place to voice fears and concerns and learn from others’ experiences. It really helps to talk with someone who has been in the same shoes, even if there is great family and friend support,” shares Janet.   

BCA-CV assists patients undergoing treatment with the Dinner’s Ready and Special Needs programs. “These programs help put dinner on the table and assist with expenses like mortgages and utility bills,” Janet explains. 

The non-profit also offers prosthetics and mastectomy bras post-surgery. The newly decorated Bra and Prosthetics Room where patients are fitted features the warm, cozy atmosphere of a ladies’ dressing room. “We offer two mastectomy bras yearly and prosthetics every three to five years to those without insurance coverage of these items,” Janet states.

The wig room, Barb’s Boutique, honors the memory of Barbara Fulton. It features hundreds of wigs, turbans, scarves and night caps for cancer patients facing chemotherapy. “This program is not breast-cancer specific. In addition to a wig, we provide two scarves or turbans and night caps at no charge,” explains Janet. 

Camp Hope is held yearly and gives breast cancer survivors opportunity to meet others, make new friends and enjoy craft and healthy cooking activities. This yearly event averages 40 participants. 

For Our Kids program is designed to help young children understand breast cancer’s effects. “Sadly younger women are becoming more frequently diagnosed in our area. This program creates open dialogue about what mom or dad is dealing with and helps kids to better cope with the changes they see,” shares Janet. The program, which has helped 12 children thus far, provides each with a teddy bear, age-appropriate reading and activity books.  

BCA-CV holds many fundraisers throughout the year, including its annual Step ‘n Stride. “We provide very comprehensive, diverse programs. No one to our knowledge does what BCA-CV is doing, from paying for mammograms to restoring silhouettes after mastectomy and chemotherapy and offering support. We can’t do what we do without continued generosity and support from the community. We thank them profusely for their help. Breast cancer doesn’t just touch the patient – it touches everybody,” concludes Janet.   

Jane Schmidt is a freelance writer living in Hagerstown, Md. who specializes in writing feature stories, advertising/marketing copy and business profiles.

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