Thursday, March 8, 2012

Breast Cancer Angels

Breast Cancer Angels, a nonprofit organization in Los Alamitos, has successfully fulfilled their mission of providing financial and emotional assistance for women and their families going through breast cancer treatment since the year 2000.

Faye Dietiker, a breast cancer survivor herself, founded the all-volunteer organization and assists more than 500 clients a year as Breast Cancer Angel’s executive director.

“I feel for the women and their families because I know what they are going through,” said Dietiker. “It is the most rewarding feeling to bring relief to families suffering from such a horrible disease.”

Of all the programs Breast Cancer Angels offers, the housing needs plan is one that should not go unnoticed. To many peoples’ surprise, families and even single women can become homeless while fighting breast cancer. The doctor visits, necessary treatments, and other expenses can be too much for patients to handle and therefore lead to lack of the necessary finances to live. The situation can even worsen when the woman can no longer support herself or her family members.

In response, Breast Cancer Angels has created a facility called Grandmas’s House of Hope through its many donations. At this facility, the group gives homeless women $500 a month for rent and food. In fact, Breast Cancer Angels is the only organization that offers assistance with monthly housing costs for women in metastatic breast cancer treatment.

“It is devastating to see women having to struggle with breast cancer while also struggling to keep their families housed, clothed and fed. That’s where we come in and provide support so that they can lead a comfortable life and a positive road to recovery,” said Dietiker.

Breast Cancer Angels is currently providing housing for 6 homeless women, all of which were working or searching for employment when they were diagnosed with cancer. Four now live at Grandmas's House of Hope and another condo has been purchased to expand available room.

Breast Cancer Angels has come a long way and still plans to expand in 2012. They plan to continue providing housing for families in financial crisis. In addition, they have a food program established to provide gift cards for families’ grocery needs. The average household will receive $250.00 per month. The organization also provides gift cards to local discount stores for the women's children to buy clothes and other necessities.

Some heartfelt responses from women really show the impact these programs are making.

“I had $7.00 and no food in the house when your food certificates came in the mail. Thank you so much,” said Debi D.

Kim R. also expressed her appreciation toward their programs.

“I want to thank you for all of your help for my good friend, Shelly C.,” Kim said. “Without your group she would not have been as strong as she was. You helped her in such a big way. We will always remember your kindness."

The nonprofit organization offers even more financial care for victims of breast cancer. They not only provide short-term home health care, but they also assist with any final expenses. They also have a unique fund that gives new patients a chance to get a second opinion on their condition so that they can improve their chances of survival. A scholarship fund is also available to help students whose lives were affected by their mother’s breast cancer treatment expenses. Lastly, Breast Cancer Angels even offers a pro bono attorney to help with legal issues such as child custody.

In addition to their enormous aid to women, Breast Cancer Angels have even assisted 5 men since their establishment in 2000.

“We are here to help in any way possible so we are definitely not limited to women,” Dietiker said. “In the end we just hope that we can affect numerous lives for the better.”

Clearly, Dietiker’s selfless attitude and hard work have really paid off. Breast Cancer Angels will continue to make people aware of the hardships breast cancer patients face and will hopefully find more “angels” to provide care and benefits for women fighting breast cancer.

Shannon Smythe

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