Southern California organization aims to provide full access to breast cancer treatment for all – Orange County Register

Breast Cancer Solutions has been providing patients in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties with direct financial assistance and removing barriers to breast cancer treatment for 24 years.

The organization mainly provides support for living expenses, including housing costs and gasoline.

Breast Cancer Solutions has helped nearly 4,900 people, each with different needs. The group works with each client individually to ensure they have the best support.

According to Jennifer Anderson, executive director of the organization, the support that makes the difference between a client’s ability to start and stay in breast cancer treatment often seems small, but can be out of reach for clients.

One of the organization’s clients was a bus driver who had to stop working during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was on a fixed income and had applied for social security, but she was not up to it.

Board members, staff and volunteers gather for a 2018 appreciation luncheon for Heather Gilbert, one of the founders of Breast Cancer Solutions, who served on the board for 20 years. (Courtesy of Breast Cancer Solutions)

To start chemotherapy, she had to pay an initial fee. She had Medicare but still wasn’t fully covered.

Breast Cancer Solutions was able to provide funds and also cover gas costs to get her to her appointment. After chemotherapy, two surgeries and hormonal treatment, she is now 70 and has no signs of cancer.

Breast Cancer Solutions continues to be a support system for clients who are no longer in treatment. When a client is unable to return to work, the organization has been able to help them find resources for financial support.

“Being able to walk alongside them on their journey, seeing the difference it makes and knowing the impact of what we do is so powerful,” Anderson said. “If we can step in and remove even a small part of their stress, I feel like we’re doing our job.”

Stress can have a significant impact on treatment success, Anderson said. Sometimes alleviating a stressful situation requires meeting unusual needs. One of the organization’s clients lived in Lake Arrowhead with her children and received treatment during the winter. They relied on burning wood to heat the house, but lacked the fuel and funds to buy more. Breast Cancer Solutions was able to purchase a cord of wood to keep their client and her family warm.

Breast Cancer Solutions can only provide support to customers with funds available to them and is dependent on donations and grants. Recently, the organization received a community impact grant through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The organization strives to ensure that access to treatment is equitable, and this grant will support clients who may not otherwise have the means and access to resources.

The organization has a small staff of four and depends on 30-35 volunteers to provide services. Breast Cancer Solutions always welcomes new volunteers and donations. Those wishing to support their work can also attend their annual Vino, Amore, Festa fundraiser on October 3 at the Big Red Barn at Strawberry Farms, 11 Strawberry Farm Road, Irvine.

Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen the interior of Southern California through philanthropy.

Aubrey L. Morgan