My Hope Chest was founded by breast cancer survivor and Las Vegas Showgirl Alisa Savoretti in the fall of 2003., She was 38 and without insurance at the time of her diagnosis. Following a mastectomy and only 5 months after finishing chemotherapy, Alisa 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 on the local CBS affiliate. Alisa had to wait nearly 3 years for her own reconstruction. That’s when she realized a huge gap in treatment for uninsured women who had a mastectomy and were unable to attain reconstructive surgery.
With the help of members of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), My Hope Chest was formed. It became a 501(c)(3) in December of 2003, and is the only national breast reconstruction organization with a core mission to help uninsured and underinsured women heal completely.
“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. It was my healing, a restoration in body mind and spirit.”
"After surviving breast cancer in 2001, Alisa Savoretti, then working as a dancer in Las Vegas, couldn’t afford reconstructive surgery after she had a mastectomy. So she stuffed the right side of her bra with tissue, billed herself as the 'Lopsided Showgirl' and went on with her life."
“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.”
We have learned that most advocates and supporters of breast cancer organizations assume every aspect of treatment is covered by the larger “pink ribbon” breast cancer charities. Sadly, this misconception keeps My Hope Chest under the radar and underfunded with limited financial ability to serve all who come to us. The irony, we receive most of our referrals from these big institutions, yet no funding.
We need everyone to be aware of women suffering after mastectomy and to please begin the dialogue for these “survivors” and their needs.
Research has identified that one in eight women are diagnosed each year with breast cancer. What is little known however, is that approximately 226,000 breast cancer patients survive each year. What percent is
The big unknown question in research that is needed… what percent of these 226,000 survivors fall through the Gap of final steps of treatment each year and unable to attain their breast reconstruction? We want to know. So, in 2019, we re launched our Breast Reconstruction Survey to begin to obtain much-needed data that is amazingly still not being researched in our country. We truly believe there are millions of survivors, women and men, who gave up hope long ago in their hopes to be able to afford this surgery.
In the current economic climate, the number of insured applicants applying for assistance is growing. The good news is … there is hope for survivors.
The BEST DAY for any charity no matter their mission, is when their services are no longer needed; we all live for that day. Thankfully there are dozens of organizations, both large and small, addressing main issues, outside of early detection, including mammograms. Thankfully, great strides are being made towards a cure and more are surviving each year.
FACT: Did you know the largest funder of breast cancer research for the cure is the Department of Defense? That’s right, our very own Army researchers have been allocated $150 Million a year since 1993 to search for a cure for breast cancer. In 2010 this figure was nearly double the research allocation of the largest breast cancer organizations in America.
It’s 2022 and every October we hear the same statistics - 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with the disease. Pink ribbons and breast cancer awareness campaigns are rampant in America. It’s wonderful, f the funds are going to research or treatment… breast cancer awareness in not a formal charity and awareness should not be the goal of our efforts . We are all very aware it exists. My Hope Chest wants to see ACTION and to be the solution for the unmet needs of survivors who need to know their treatment options, including reconstructive surgery.
With the beginning of the government Healthcare program, we saw a spike in request for assistance of insured individuals lacking their huge deductibles of $6- $7,000. In addition, is the segment of survivors in active treatment,suffering from “financial toxicity” or the ability to keep up with bills, like rent, insurance and utilities. during a health or life crisis My Hope Chest now assists women in active breast reconstruction in both of these areas. Less talk…. more ACTION.
There is a front end of treatment and a backend of treatment. Thankfully, breast centers, health departments and breast health navigators in every city provide immediate information to newly diagnosed women. In addition, there’s a plethora of information available on the Internet on what to expect in the next steps from sources like the American Cancer Society, Living Beyond Breast Cancer and others, getting information is well covered. I believe breast cancer organizations are all helping the same women at different steps in their journey and that’s why we must focus efforts and funding now on areas that are needing help. Instead of producing another “What You Should Know About Breast Cancer” pamphlet, help us continue to make and distribute our Educational Brochure (link to it to download) that shows women this process and that there is HOPE after mastectomy to help alleviate the worry in this important decision affecting their body and body image.
Dozens of organizations, both big and small, cover education and awareness, which is why My Hope Chest’s crusade began and continues to focus on the back end of treatment - where Survivors fall unknowingly through the cracks. We speak to hundreds of survivors struggling to live beyond the disease every day. They tell us they feel less than whole and can’t get past their cancer experience because they are reminded of their agonizing choice to sacrifice one or both breasts in exchange for their life every time they look in the mirror . While our wait list grows nationwide, the awareness that thousands of women still live without one or both breasts for years after their surgery is still largely a whisper. This has to change. We need your help.
Be visionary! Expand your giving to aid in the total healing of a survivor’s journey. Enjoy the feeling you get from knowing that your dollars are providing a real and immediate solution to an unmet problem – and that you’re helping a real person right now.
With greater awareness comes a greater need and responsibility. My Hope Chest invites local business and corporations to discuss Win-Win Cause Marketing programs to help us continue our important work for survivors. I personally challenge business leaders to join My Hope Chest, be a visionary philanthropist… step away from the pack and make a major impact with your philanthropic dollars. A financial contribution to grassroots organizations like My Hope Chest have an extremely profound impact on our mission, I promise you.
My vision is to see My Hope Chest change lives in America until there is a cure for the disease. My hope is to eliminate our wait list sooner rather than later and once and for all. My dream is to expand our mission one day and assist women all over the globe as I am confident ours is a global issue.
With your support, My Hope Chest and I will achieve our vision, our hope and our dream, leaving an important legacy providing closure from breast cancer and restoring women in body, mind and spirit.
Thank you for taking the time to read and learn why My Hope Chests work is necessary. I ask you to spread the word within your community and online networks to help increase the awareness of this gap in breast cancer treatment. Together we will change lives!
I am eternally thankful for my mother Betty (also a survivor) who has supported My Hope Chest and my work since its inception, and for my family and friends and dedicated volunteers too who continue to be by my side. 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. (add photo of us in front of office) I hope you’ve been empowered with new information to take ACTION and support My Hope Chest …Together we will “Bring Hope to Life!”
For more ideas on how you can help, visit SUPPORT MHC.
Please remember … know your breasts, do your self-exams 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 or reduced fee programs in October - invest the small price that can save your life. Contact your health department, American Cancer Society or Susan G. Komen chapter in your town for a referral.
God bless and in good health,