Video: "The Lopsided Showgirl" now helping others rebuild
By: Alisa Savoretti
How My Battle with Breast Cancer Inspired My Hope Chest
I was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 10 years ago, after finding a lump in August 2001 and finally getting it checked out in November. At the age of 38, I found myself uninsured and in need of treatment.
Pinellas County Social Services saved my life and paid for my mastectomy in addition to the 8 rounds of chemo that followed. I accepted it and moved on to find a way to get my breasts restored. For months I searched locally and nationally, calling all the traditional organizations, searching the web, hoping to find help to get funding for my surgery, but there was nothing.
I was a young, single woman in my 30s, without the body part that defines our femininity. In March of 2003, 5 months post chemo and about to turn 40, I returned to the Las Vegas stage and my career as a professional dancer. This time however, I was dancing minus one breast.
They padded my costume and I billed myself as the "Lopsided Showgirl." That is when I shared my plight to gain reconstruction and vision for an organization to solve the problem - My Hope Chest.
It was nearly 3 years from the time I lost my breast until the time it was restored. By December of 2003, My Hope Chest became a 501c3 organization dedicated to funding breast reconstruction for uninsured breast survivors.
In 2011, we are the first and ONLY national non-profit addressing breast reconstruction for uninsured breast survivors. For those who desire the surgery, our services pick up where the other "pink ribbon" causes leave off providing the "final step in breast cancer treatment." My Hope Chest has a wait list of women that want this surgery and most all of our referrals, for delayed reconstruction, continue to come from the largest breast cancer organizations in the country.
In 2002, I could not find even ONE organization in America to help me with reconstruction. Because of My Hope Chest and our growing surgeon partners, I feel blessed to say, now there is hope, and my passion for the cause still consumes me. With 6200 uninsured women a year losing their breasts, the need far outweighs the means. We hope that while the great research continues for the cure, the awareness and funding will shift to focusing on those women living now and finishing their treatment.
Every time you hear about breast cancer, I hope you think of My Hope Chest and your friends, sisters, mothers and daughters who are lucky to have insurance or may need our services some day. In breast cancer initiatives, I believe we are all helping the same woman at different steps of her journey. My prayers are that every woman, no matter her financial disposition, will have the opportunity to see the two beautiful breasts that she was born with, even after cancer.