When I was hired to work at Breast Cancer Resource Center in 2004 an interesting thing happened; I began to meet the most kind, loving, compassionate, intelligent, courageous, delightful, hardworking, committed, funny women I had the pleasure of meeting in my 48 years of life. Most of these remarkable women were diagnosed with breast cancer and many of them were in crisis. Over the years, we have lost so many of these women. My friends often ask me why I continue to work here because of the frequent, devastating loss we encounter in this work. And I answer them as truthfully as I can. I work here because I come to work every day knowing deep in my heart, that BCRC makes a difference.
Since I was diagnosed at age 41, almost 21 years ago, I knew that I left BCRC offices feeling better able to cope, more empowered and more connected with other women with breast cancer. Today, we continue to do those things and more. We educate, we inform, we create a safe place for women to cry and cuss and be sad. We truly create a community that understands.
Thousands of women have walked through our doors over the years. Many of them have been scared and tearful about what their future held. Once they meet their patient navigator, they begin to see that they too can get through treatment. They can see what the future holds for them through the face of their navigators.
When I was a navigator, I was eager to help women with breast cancer. I wanted to lift the burden of their diagnosis. I wanted to listen and help them find solutions to the myriad issues that arise when diagnosed. Will I be able to work while in treatment? What does chemo feel like going into my body? Will I lose my hair? How do I know I’m making the right decision? At the end of the day, BCRC’s mission is to empower those affected by breast cancer with personalized support and compassion. From our individualized navigation services to our 14 monthly support circles, BCRC ensures that no one faces breast cancer alone. It’s a human and deeply personal service that we are providing. And that’s why I come to work every day.
I’ve had the privilege of being the executive director for almost 7 years, and doing what we do here is still why I get out of bed. Now my role is to make sure we have expanding and strong community partnerships to make sure that every women gets the care she deserves. I ask questions to identify gaps within the community and then find other organizations to fill the gaps if we do not have the resources to fill it ourselves. I seek funding to help us help others. I try to make our office welcoming not just to our clients and donors, but also to our staff.
I’m not going to lie. Some days coming to work is hard. It’s hard when I get a call from a woman I navigated years ago who tells me she was just re-diagnosed and is now stage IV. It’s devastating when we lose our friends. Both of these things happen far too frequently.
But this is what I know. I know that BCRC is important to the cancer community. We provide services no one else does and we’ve done it for 23 years. I believe with all my heart that we do make a difference every day. We listen, we inform, we give of ourselves every single day so that a woman with breast cancer may not suffer as much as she might if she didn’t know us. We have created a remarkable community that comes together to celebrate victories and mourns lives lost. When we lose a client–no, a friend–we cry. We cry, and grieve and wish for a cure so that not one more precious life is taken from their family and friends. But until that day, there is BCRC.
Ray Anne Evans
If you or someone you know is facing breast cancer and could use our support, please visit our website or call our helpline at 512-524-2560.
Consider making a donation to BCRC this October and give the gift that makes a real difference for the women in Central Texas facing breast cancer right NOW. Visit bcrc.org to learn more about how we can help, or click here if you wish to give back today.