My Hope Chest was founded by Alisa Savoretti in the fall of 2003. A breast cancer survivor and Las Vegas Showgirl, she was 38 and without insurance at the time of her diagnosis. Following a mastectomy and only 5 months after finishing her chemotherapy, she returned to the Las Vegas stage and her career as a professional dancer – this time however, minus one breast.
Billing herself as the “Lop-sided Showgirl”, Alisa shared her personal story and plans for an organization as a result of it, gaining media attention through a news story on the local CBS affiliate. Alisa had to wait nearly 3 years to acquire her own reconstruction. She realized then that there is a huge gap in treatment that existed for “uninsured” women suffering from a mastectomy.
“I realized how my own self-esteem, confidence and self worth as a woman returned when I could look in the mirror and see my whole physical being once again. I was my healing, a rebirth and a godsend.”
With the help of members of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), My Hope Chest was formed and became a 501c3 in December of 2003, and is the only “national” breast reconstruction organization working to help “uninsured” and under insured women heal completely.
Thoughts from the Founder
I have never questioned why I got cancer, I honestly believe I was destined to start My Hope Chest. Seeing “pink ribbons” everywhere, the “awareness” of the disease and the magnitude of the dollars that breast cancer raised, I believed the support and funding was there to address this “final step in breast cancer treatment”. I thought the program would have been much easier, a no-brainer – alas, I was mistaken.
LACK of AWARENESS…. the big problem.
My Hope Chest has made strides on a small number of survivors so far. The the longer we grow, the more we are uncovering the epidemic proportion of the problem. We’ve learned that early 6200 women a year lose their breasts and are uninsured which is astounding when you think about it… times all of the years behind us and all of the years to come… Just counting back 10 years , could it be true that 62,000+ women still living breast-less in the most heavily funded cause in America? To make matters worse, in this economic climate we are seeking a growing number of “insured” women coming to us for help with their co-pays of $2500-$5000. Knowing these facts I can help but question is WHY would we still be talking about, and throwing our hard earned dollars at redundant, breast cancer “awareness” campaigns?
My Views on the big 3 areas of breast cancer funding…
Research…. We need to find a cure.
The best thing that could happen to any charity is that their services are no longer needed and I live for that day in breast cancer. Thankfully there are dozens of organizations both large and small addressing this task and great strides are being forged towards the cure of the disease.
That said…Do you know who is the largest funder of breast cancer research for the cure is? Our government, the DOD…. the Dept of Defense, our very own Army allocates $150 Million a year to searching for the cure and has since 1993… it was double of the largest “pink ribbon” organizations in 2010.
Education of the Disease
Thankfully, breast centers and breast health navigators in every city provide the immediate information to a newly diagnosed woman in addition to the plethora of information on the Internet- There are resources to help patients and survivors. I believe breast cancer organizations are all helping the same woman at different steps of her journey. Therefore we must focus or efforts and funding into areas that are not well covered rather than pay to produce another “What You Should Know About Breast Cancer” pamphlet.
Awareness? Are you awake?
I go on the record that I am not a supporter of breast cancer “awareness” campaigns “in America”… The point is moot and the campaigns redundant. I firmly believe we are all very aware that breast cancer exists. Funding for the disease needs to be redirected to the unmet needs for women like breast reconstruction and bill pay programs for those going through treatment and unable to work. Less talking…. more action.
As I believe research, education and awareness of the disease are covered, I continue My Hope Chest’s crusade in the area of treatment… on the back end of the disease where women are falling through the cracks. I speak to hundreds of survivors who struggle every day to live beyond the disease. Like I once did, they tell me they feel less than whole because of their cancer experience and are reminded every day when they look in the mirror of their agonizing choice to sacrifice one or both breasts in exchange for their life. Although our wait list grows nationwide , the awareness that thousands of women still live years after the disease missing one or both breasts, has not-and in 2012 this has to change.
Split your gifts!
If you donate to breast cancer initiatives now, I encourage you to expand your reach to aid in the total healing of a woman’s journey. You will feel even better knowing that you are providing a real solution to an unmet problem – and helping a real someone right NOW.
Become an “Angel Sponsor”
We encourage corporations and local business to talk to us about Partnerships and cause related marketing programs. I personally challenge these leaders to be visionaries….step out of the pack and to make a major impact with their philanthropic efforts instead of the usual marketing “bang for the buck”. A financial contribution to My Hope Chest will have so much more of a profound impact on our mission, I promise you.
My vision continues to see My Hope Chest change lives in America and to eliminate our wait list once and for all. My dream is to live to see My Hope Chest grow to assist women all over the globe. I believe that with your support, My Hope Chest, like grassroots organizations before it, will endure in our society and leave an important legacy on this earth until there is a cure for the disease.
Finally, friends, I thank you sincerely for taking the time to learn about our mission and encourage you to spread the word within your community and online networks, we simply can’t do it alone. I am thankful for my mother Betty, a survivor, who has supported me and this charity since it’s inception and my family that has had to deal with me along the ride. I am confident the universe will provide the essential funding we seek to continue our important work, just as I know I am destined to see this project through.
I hope I have empowered you with the information to choose My Hope Chest this October and help us “Bring Hope to Life” for a woman in need today” For more ideas on how you can help, go to SUPPORT MHC.
restore. transform. complete
Remember to do your self-exams, know your breasts and get your annual mammogram. (I personally recommend mammograms for women under 40 if there is a family history of breast cancer). Many towns offer free programs or it is usually about $100 – a small price for something that will save your life! Contact the American Cancer Society or Susan G. Komen chapter in your town for a referral.
God bless and in good health,
- Ewomen Network
- Women In Networking
- National Association of Professional Woman
- USO Tampa Bay ~ Advisory Board
- Tampa Bay Lightning Local Hero 2012
- Business Leader ~ Top 50 Entrepreneurs 2012
- Tampa Bay Business Journal ~Woman of the Year, Finalist 2010,2011,2012
- Everyday Hero ~ Bay News 9 2009
- Governor’s Five Points of Light Award Finalist 2008