FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND FREE PROGRAMS
Emergency Financial Assistance
Breast Cancer Emergency Fund - Provides low-income San Franciscans with emergency financial assistance while receiving treatment for breast cancer to help pay rent, utilities, and uninsured medical expenses during treatment. "A godsend!"
SAMFund - The SAMFund is a unique non-profit organization created to assist young adult survivors of cancer with a successful transition into their post-treatment life, by providing financial support through the distribution of grants and scholarships. If your grant application is accepted, the SAMFund will pay for medical bills, yoga, therapy, anything that will help you survive and move forward. "An incredible resource! I know of at least 3 BAYS women that have gotten grants though them."
Shanti Lifelines Breast Cancer Program - Lifelines provides financial assistance and free services including meals, transportation, complementary care and much more to low-income (and those on disability) women living in San Francisco with breast cancer. "Wonderful, supportive staff who took care of applying for and arranging services for me when I was too tired."
Free Beauty & Hats
American Cancer Society - National organization with local offices that provide free wigs to women with breast cancer. Use their online search tool to find a location near you.
Festoon Salon - Locations in San Francisco and Berkeley. "Welcome back" program offers limited free treatments for women who are growing their hair back after chemotherapy. "Festoon is a beautifully stylish salon, and owner John was so compassionate as he gave me a super-short 'do right before all my hair fell out. They were also terrific about styling my post-chemo hair."
Nichole Kreps – Nichole offers free haircuts to women going through chemo; salon located in San Francisco. “Nichole has a personal connection to breast cancer and is happy to provide complementary transitional haircuts to women going through chemotherapy."
Network of Strength (formerly Y-ME) - National organization that offers wigs and breast prostheses for women with limited financial resources.
Free Cleaning Services
Cleaning For A Reason - National organization that links cancer patients with local cleaning services. Fill out their online form and get four free general cleanings – one a month for four months.
Free Complementary Care
Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic - Provides free and sliding-scale complementary and alternative medical treatments to low income women with cancer, with locations in Oakland and San Francisco.
Marina Lee U'ilani Bermudez Alternative Breast Cancer Treatment Fund – Provides financial support for alternative and complementary treatments for women with breast cancer in Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii. "The U'ilani Fund is an amazing source of funds for women who want to pursue alternative or complementary treatments, and it pays tribute to a wonderful young woman who died of breast cancer."
Ceres Community Project – Provides delicious and nourishing meals to people in Sonoma County who are in crisis due to life-threatening illness such as cancer. Meals are free for three months, then a small donation is requested. "What an amazing project – we wish Ceres could expand to San Francisco."
Meals of Marin – Prepares and delivers healthy, home-cooked meals to people with life threatening illnesses living in Marin County. The meals and delivery are free of charge to those who qualify.
Project Open Hand – Offers free meals to breast cancer patients undergoing treatment (including hormonal therapy) who live in San Francisco or Alameda County. There are no other qualifying criteria.
Free Medical Advice and Care
Right Action for Women (RAW) – Founded by actress and breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate, Right Action for Women is funding a financial assistance program to help young women who are at high risk for breast cancer gain access to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) screening. Together with the Cancer Support Community (CSC), www.cancersupportcommunity.org and Patient Services, Inc. (PSI), Right Action for Women has created a partnership to bring financial support to young women who are facing the risk of early breast cancer as a result of a genetic predisposition.
The Second Opinion – A non-profit agency whose mission is to provide free multidisciplinary second opinions and related services to adults in California diagnosed with cancer. Unlike Tumor Boards, which are convened to answer questions from physicians (not patients), The Second Opinion boards are convened to answer questions from patients and their family members.
Forluli Photography – ForLuli Photography's mission is to work with women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are about to start treatment. Photo sessions are designed to fit a woman's instinct; they can be taken in the studio, on location or in the home. These sessions are currently offered for free.
American Cancer Society - National organization with local offices that provide free cabs to women with breast cancer. Use their online search tool to find a location near you. "Many of us simply could not have gotten through cancer treatment without Cancer Cab!"
Lifeline Pilots - Provides free airline transportation for those seeking the best medical treatment or that have a compassionate need.
Free Wellness, Yoga, and More
Casting for Recovery - National not-for-profit program that provides an opportunity for women whose lives have been profoundly affected by breast cancer to experience physical, emotional, and spiritual healing through retreats in a beautiful natural setting and to learn fly-fishing, a sport for life, as part of a free two-day retreat.
First Descents - First Descents is committed to curing young adults of the emotional effects of cancer and empowering them to regain control of their lives by offering free outdoor adventure therapy through kayaking, rock climbing and other outdoor adventure sports. "I have watched FD change so many people's lives including mine. It is a place where we all recognize the challenges cancer has thrown at us, and dive head-first into adventures like kayaking and rock climbing that seemed impossible only hours before."
Camp Erin – In addition to providing support services for all persons going through end-of-life issues, Kara sponsors Camp Erin, a free, weekend grief camp designed for children ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of a family member or friend.
Little Pink Houses of Hope - Little Pink Houses of Hope provide week-long retreats in North and South Carolina for breast cancer families. They provide the food and beach house lodging, as well as daily activities, but participants need to provide their own transportation. "This is a fabulous organization and great for the soul."
Yoga Bear - A national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting more opportunities for wellness and healing to the cancer community through the practice of yoga. Their website provides links to free yoga classes in the Bay Area, as well as online yoga videos. "Yoga Bear partnered me with Bernal Yoga in San Francisco and I received two months of free yoga!"
ADVOCACY & ACTION
Army of Women - National organization started by Dr. Susan Love with the goal of signing up one million healthy women of every age and ethnicity, including breast cancer survivors and women at high-risk for the disease, to partner with breast cancer researchers to find a cure for breast cancer. "A great way to sign up for local and even national studies or trials."
Breast Cancer Action – Bay Area-based national organization that advocates for policy changes in the treatment of breast cancer, for decreasing involuntary environmental exposures that put people at risk for breast cancer, and for rectifying inequities that lead to disparities in breast cancer outcomes.
Breast Cancer Fund – Bay Area-based national organization that focuses on identifying the environmental causes of breast cancer and preventing the disease.
I'm Too Young For This! (I2Y) - National organization with local chapter devoted to building community, improving quality of life, and providing meaningful survivorship for young people with cancer (all types). I2Y sponsors fun events and has great links on their website. "I have helped coordinate and participate in social events such as happy hours and book signings. I2Y also has its own radio show called 'Stupid Cancer.'"
Young Survival Coalition (YSC) – National organization with local branch that works with survivors, caregivers and the medical, research, advocacy and legislative communities to increase the quality and quantity of life for women diagnosed with breast cancer ages 40 and under. "YSC's Northern California branch is BAYS' sister organization – they do the advocacy and education, and we provide the support groups."
Zero Breast Cancer – A Marin-based organization that is dedicated to finding the causes of breast cancer through community participation in the research process. ZBC has helped initiate a number of research projects in the Bay Area and participates in advocacy and education (including piloting a prevention program designed for adolescent girls).
Arts for Healing – Located in Santa Rosa, Arts for Healing uses the healing power of art to support people coping with cancer in Sonoma County. In free painting support groups, people touched by cancer create wild and wonderful art while they share a lifeline of camaraderie and caring with each other.
Art for Recovery - Located in San Francisco, UCSF's Art for Recovery provides a safe environment where adults can express the intense feelings that arise in life-threatening illnesses. BAYS members have participated in The Firefly Project and other Art for Recovery programs.
BEAUTY AND HATS
A Woman's Touch – Located inside California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco, this boutique offers wigs, hairpieces, and hats in a private setting.
Alternative Design Studio (ADS) Hats - Located in the Mission, this beautiful shop has the widest array of hats in town. "Lots of soft, cotton hats for sensitive bald heads, plus fun hats for special occasions."
Friend to Friend – Located inside UCSF's Mt. Zion Hospital, the Friend to Friend Cancer boutique carries a nice selection of hats, turbans, scarves, and wigs, as well as wig consultation. F2F also offers complimentary wig trims and Look Good, Feel Better beauty makeovers.
Hats with Hair – Based in Tampa, Hats with Hair transforms your own hair into a wig that can be worn under a hat. "I normally just wear a hat, but my kids have asked that when I go to their school, I wear my ‘hip hair.’"
100% Pure – This is an awesome place to get beauty products without having to check labels. "I use their face cleanser for daytime and before bed as well as their lotions. The shampoo and condition are also really good."
BRAS AND PROSTHETICS
A Woman's Touch – Located in the CPMC Women's Health Resource Center, the boutique provides private prosthesis and bra fittings by appointment only. Run by Jeanni Lang, the program is Medicare-approved and many services are covered by private health insurance. "Jeanni has 20 years experience and made me feel comfortable and at ease. She does her best to stock bras that young women might like."
Bras for Body and Soul – A program of the Fremont-based HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, Bras for Body and Soul (BBS) provides a safe, comfortable and understanding environment for breast cancer survivors to find the products that they need. "As a Blue Cross/Anthem patient, BBS was the closest preferred provider I could find in the Bay Area."
Friend to Friend – Located inside UCSF's Mt. Zion Hospital, this "cancer boutique" carries a limited selection of mastectomy bras and swimsuits and provides expert prosthetic fittings. "Very convenient if you are a UCSF patient."
Lands' End – Online department store offers a wide selection of mastectomy swimsuits. Type "mastectomy" into their online search field to see selections. Lands' End suits also available locally at the Sears in the Tanforan Mall. "The mastectomy suits are the same as the regular Lands' End swimsuits, so you don't feel like you're wearing your grandmother's old bathing suit."
Misty's Precious Crochet - Online "etsy" purveyor of hand-crocheted "breasts" that are lightweight and great for hot summers or work outs. You can also find a pattern for knitting your own "tittie" here: http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall05/PATTbits.html. "We fell in love with these at first sight, and our members love their simplicity and comfort."
Nordstrom - National department store with local branches offers in-person fittings for prosthetics and mastectomy bras, as well as complimentary "pocketing" of any non-mastectomy bra. Call to make an appointment. "The fitters at Nordstrom are great, and if you're with Kaiser, it couldn't be simpler. Nordstrom handles all the paperwork. Be sure to call ahead for a fitting appointment."
BRCA Connections – Based at CPMC’s Pacific Campus, BRCA Connections provides education, resources, and support for women affected by BRCA genes and mutations.
FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) – FORCE is the only national nonprofit organization devoted to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Its mission includes support, education, advocacy, awareness, and research specific to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
Amitabha Medical Clinic & Healing Center - Located in Sebastopol, the Amitabha clinic embodies Eastern and Western medicine practices to focus integrated treatments on patients with cancer.
Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic – Provides free and sliding-scale complementary and alternative medical treatments to low income women with cancer, with locations in Oakland and San Francisco.
CPMC Institute for Health and Healing – Located in San Francisco, offers physical therapies such as massage and bodywork; mind-body practices such as yoga, mindfulness meditation and guided imagery; nutritional counseling, herbal remedies and supplements; a health research service and more.
Smith Integrative Oncology – (415) 682-0843 – Located in downtown San Francisco, Smith Integrative Oncology offers massage therapy, alternative and complementary medicine, and nutrition counseling, along with traditional oncology services.
Pine Street Clinic - Located in San Anselmo, the Pine Street Clinic offers alternative medical services as well as a variety of herbs and supplements. "I really appreciated Michael Broffman's gentle nature and his expertise in both traditional cancer treatments and Chinese medicine. I'm also grateful that I was able to receive acupuncture on a sliding scale (ask Louise)."
UCSF Osher Center - Located in San Francisco, the Osher Center offers lectures, classes, workshops, and therapeutic programs for the public as well as UCSF patients, emphasizing patient empowerment, prevention, and whole person healing. "Osher has so many great, free programs. I wish I had time to take advantage of them all."
FERTILITY AND SEXUALITY
Blossom Organics – Cancer treatment often has adverse effects on libido and intimacy. Blossom Organics creates safe, naturally pure intimate care products to help reduce these effects. "I received some Blossom Organics product samples at the Breast Cancer Fund’s Peak Hike, and not only do they work wonderfully, it’s comforting to know that they are 100% safe and organic."
Fertile Hope – Most people aren't aware of the impact that cancer treatment can have on fertility. Fertile Hope provides information and financial support for cancer survivors who want to pursue their fertility options.
SueAnn Mark – Dr. Mark offers individual and couples sex counseling, with a particular specialty in sexuality after breast cancer. "SueAnn speaks widely about the impact of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment on sexuality, and has a warm and wonderful way of getting to the heart of the matter."
UCSF Center for Reproductive Health – Among local medical centers, UCSF has been especially proactive about making sure young women with breast cancer know their reproductive options before they begin cancer treatment. "Dr. Mitch Rosen is incredibly compassionate and truly cared about preserving my fertility."
Sunflower Wellness - Non-profit organization dedicated to offering custom-tailored programs to meet cancer survivors' needs, including free exercise counseling for UCSF patients and special classes at the Bay Club (Marin and SF locations). Limited scholarships available. "Regan and Jane are terrific – they helped train BAYS for the Half Dome and Grand Canyon hikes."
FOOD AND NUTRITION
Natalie Ledesma – Affiliated with both Smith Integrative Oncology (see Complementary Medicine, above) and UCSF Cancer Resource Center (see Resource Centers, below), Natalie provides invaluable nutrition assessments and recommendations for people with cancer. "Natalie really inspired me to improve my nutrition and gave me a sense of control at a time when everything else seemed out of control."
Nirit Zach/Food With Love – (415) 216-6249 - Personal chef providing healthy and tasty cooking for those who don't have time. "Nirit provided delicious catering for BAYS' holiday party, and has lovingly prepared food for BAYS members as well."
Square Meals - Personal chef who prepares healthful meals and delivers them straight to your fridge. "We met Chef Alison at the UCSF Taste for the Cure event, and fell in love with her cooking. For out-of-town friends and family who want to help a newly diagnosed woman, we recommend a gift certificate from Square Meals!"
Lymphedivas – Founded by two young breast cancer survivors, Lymphedivas offers an array of stylish and comfortable compression sleeves and gauntlets for women with lymphedema. "Not your grandmother's compression sleeves!"
Pro Active Therapy – Julie Wong's clinic offers all types of physical therapy but is particularly unique in its treatment of lymphedema. "Julie is the go-to person for young women with lymphedema."
St. Mary’s Medical Center Comprehensive Lymphedema Center – Offers a personalized, comprehensive treatment program to help patients who have or are at risk for lymphedema caused by radiation and/or cancer surgeries. "Margit and Fiona came to speak to BAYS about the risks and treatment of lymphedema, and it’s clear that they really care about their patients!”"
The SCAR Project – A series of large-scale portraits of young breast cancer survivors (including two BAYS members!) shot by fashion photographer David Jay. The primary purpose of the project is to raise awareness about breast cancer in young women.
Myself Together Again (M:TA) – A book and website that chronicles one young woman's experience with a bilateral mastectomy and delayed reconstruction.
Amazon Heart - Offers adventures such as long-distance motorcycle rides, exotic treks, and overseas volunteering opportunities to bring together breast cancer survivors and raise funds for breast cancer organizations.
Climb Against The Odds - Breast Cancer Fund offers an annual mountaineering expedition for breast cancer prevention. The climb represents both a personal endeavor to honor the courage it takes to face breast cancer, and a collective effort to stop the disease before it starts.
Breast Cancer Connections - Located in Palo Alto, Breast Cancer Connections is a non-profit dedicated to providing information and support to people dealing with breast cancer or with breast health issues.
CPMC Women's Health Resource Center - Located in San Francisco, CPMC's Women's Health Resource Center offers a Boutique for Women with Cancer, Massage Therapy Services, Support Groups, and the Look Good...Feel Better Program.
UCSF Cancer Resource Center (UCSF CRC) – Located in San Francisco, UCSF CRC (also known as the Ida and Joseph Friend Center) offers free programs such as Healing Through Dance, Knitting, Meditation and Guided Imagery, Qi Gong, Restorative Movement, and more. Most programs open to the general public.
Marin Cancer Institute Cancer Resource and Recovery Center - Located in Greenbrae, the Cancer Resource Center offers library services, support groups, and recovery/survivorship programs. Contact Diane Brandon, Cancer Resource Specialist, at 415.925.7920 for more information.
Sacramento Area Mets - Based on the BAYS model, this group is targeted for younger women in the Sacramento Area with metastatic breast cancer.
Sutter North Bay Women’s Health Center - The Sutter North Bay Women's Health Center provides a wide range of imaging and support services in one convenient location. Support services include the Nurse Navigator for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer and the Integrative Health and Healing Program (IHHS), which offers free complementary therapies for women with cancer. Services are provided by volunteer practitioners and include acupuncture, massage, naturopathy, nutrition, movement and stress reduction therapies. Contact Nurse Navigator Leah Borden at 707-576-4800 for more information.
Women's Cancer Resource Center (WCRC) - Located in Oakland, WCRC offers free programs such as Gentle Yoga, Writing for Wellness, Yarn Divas, Cooking Club, Nutrition, Creativity and special offerings. Also offers support groups, educational events, and more.
Commonweal - Offers a week-long retreat for people with cancer, with the goal of helping participants live better by providing balanced information on choices in healing, mainstream and complementary therapies; exploring emotional and spiritual dimensions of cancer; and experiencing genuine community with others facing a cancer diagnosis. Scholarships are available, including the Deb Mosley Scholarship (in honor of BAYS’ co-founder) for young women with metastatic breast cancer. "My retreat at Commonweal was a transformative experience."
Spirit Rock - Hosts a year-round schedule of residential retreats, daylong retreats/workshops, benefit workshops, and weekly classes for beginning and experienced meditators (instruction is in Vipassana meditation). "I participated in Nina Wise's workshop on Buddhist practice and illness while I was going through treatment. I found it really helpful, especially Nina's message about prioritizing joy in our lives."
TATTOOS (Temporary and Permanent)
Areola Tattoo – Temporary areloa tattoos manufactured to meet all FDA requirements for non-toxic vegetable dyes. “I seriously had to do a double take because they look so real. It was the first time in 2-1/2 years that I felt like my old self.”
Dragonfly Ink – Located in San Francisco, Dragonfly Ink specializes in customized works of art for the human canvas. Sasha has 10 years of experience in doing "art for scars" (including mastectomy scars and flap scars) and in cosmetic tattooing (nipple/areola pigmentation after reconstruction). "I left Sasha's studio feeling that I had finally taken the first step in reclaiming my body. It was very empowering to be able to produce a thing of beauty from a year's difficult ordeal."
Henna Lounge – With a fine arts background, Darcy Vasudev at Henna Lounge uses fresh, homemade henna blended with aromatherapy-grade essential oils to create beautiful designs for hands, feet, head, and more. Darcy promotes using henna as a wonderful way to "dare to go bare" during chemo. "Darcy is absolutely amazing! Her henna tattoos truly helped transform my chemo experience. The designs helped me feel beautiful and creative, and Darcy has fabulous energy. She makes house calls in addition to working out of her loft in the Mission."
Sacred Rose Tattoo – Amy Justen at Sacred Rose in Berkeley receives raves reviews from BAYS members. "Amy did an incredibly beautiful bird and flower design over my entire reconstructed breast and I am SO happy with it! Once you see her designs you will smitten, the majority of tattoos she does are nature designs, birds and flowers rank highest."
Shannon Archuleta Tattoo – A private studio located in San Francisco's Mission District. Shannon has been tattooing since 1994. She comes with high praise from BAYS members who have used her.