Washington Hospital: HERS Breast Cancer Foundation
HERS Breast Cancer Foundation Offers Support Services to Women
The warm greeting each visitor receives upon entering the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation is in many cases an affirming emotional lift for a woman who has experienced breast cancer. Located inside the Women's Center in Washington West, the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation store offers multiple services which provide women with education as well as generous emotional support, hope and empowerment.
"Our staff and volunteers have heart," says Executive Director Vera Packard, M.D. She oversees the many facets of the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation which is set within the Women's Center, including all the four programs: Bras for Body and Soul (r), We Support YOU Survive, Lymphdema Project and Hair with Care. "We have amazing people here who help us change people's lives. One woman recently told me, 'Doctors gave me my life back and HERS allowed me to live my life'."
The care and support provided to over 1,000 women a year includes one-on-one communication and help with a variety of services in an attractive, boutique setting. Staff and volunteers, some of whom are breast cancer survivors, are positive, empathetic and sensitive to the many issues facing women undergoing treatment for cancer.
Multiple Services Enhance Women's Lives
The Bras for Body and Soul program has specifically trained staff members who provide women with private, individualized fittings for prosthetics and special post-surgery garments such as breast forms and bras. Secluded dressing rooms, nicely decorated, provide a relaxing setting for trying on garments. Through the Lymphedema Project, women are able to select upper-body compression sleeves which help relieve lymphedema issues. Lymphedema sometimes occurs after breast cancer treatments. Lymphedema can cause long-term physical and psychological problems for patients.
An additional component is Hair with Care. Tucked into the space is a hair styling chair staffed by hair stylists who help fit clients with custom-styled wigs to bridge the period when they have lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy treatments. The benefit to women is that their self-image is better and they are more likely to continue an active social life. In addition, the We Support, You Survive program provides services to underserved women who are not covered by health insurance or cannot afford these products, including the garments and sleeves.
"We take care of their soul and we help people feel normal again," explains Dr. Packard of the multi-faceted program. "They feel good about their 'new normal' and enjoy life again," she says.
"We find that when women come here, they start feeling better about themselves and feel more confident. They find support and hope for the future," notes Dr. Packard. "We are a 'soft place to fall' and are dedicated to helping them 'bounce back'," she adds. In a new video on the foundation's website, four women who have benefitted from the programs help explain the value of the many services offered at this center, sharing their stories of the hope, empowerment, renewal and support (HERS) that they experienced at the foundation during their journeys through diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.
HERS Breast Cancer Foundation also provides help with understanding insurance forms and making sure that clients receive their maximum benefit.
The HERS Breast Cancer Foundation recently welcomed Chris Hubbard, a 19-year breast cancer survivor who has created programs and services for several breast cancer-focused nonprofits. She also has been a care consultant for a manufacturer of post-mastectomy products. Ms. Hubbard is an enthusiastic provider of programs for women diagnosed with breast cancer and excited about her new role with HERS Breast Cancer Foundation.
The foundation, which has been centered in this location for 10 years, is also celebrating the recent opening of a new facility, expanding their outreach programs to more women.
For more information on the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation and their new location, visit hersbreastcancerfoundation.org.