Celebrating 10 Years of Service

If you pour enough love and support into something, it is bound to soar.

Oh, how I love this quote for it sums up so beautifully our Unite for HER! Over the years, all who have moved our mission forward have done so on pure, authentic love and support. Today, September 29, 2019, Unite for HER celebrates 10 years of service.

During the past 10 years we have supported over 5,000 women affected by breast cancer. If one were to tell me then the enormous reach our programming would one day deliver, I would never have believed them. What started with a single Wellness Day at Paoli Hospital where we supported 26 newly diagnosed women, has now grown to serve 1,800 women affected by breast and ovarian cancers, supporting each of them for a full year with our innovative and hands-on programming. We are so honored to be embraced by our community, sharing a common goal of serving more women each and every year, leaving no woman behind.

Pink, The Color Chose Me

I get asked often, how does a mother of three, gymnastics coach, and sales executive become the founder and CEO of a growing nonprofit?

In 2004, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was during that time that I navigated myself through multiple surgeries, difficult treatments, and then recovery. It was then that I noticed a gap in the medical community in order to fully restore one’s emotional and physical well-being.

Sue with her family in 2004.

I embarked on complementing my standard of care with integrative therapies to ward off unwanted side effects and symptoms, without more drugs or prescriptions. Treatments like medical acupuncture, restorative yoga, and whole food nutrition became vital to my daily routine, supporting my emotional and physical well-being. Little did I know I was forming the business plan and foundation of Unite for HER’s mission and programming. At that time I was just trying to survive, looking to subside bone pain, headaches, hot flashes, exhaustion, and depression. At 39 years old with three young children, I barely noticed the shell of myself. I remember praying often to please just let me see my children graduate from high school. As hard as this is to say, I am grateful to have had gone through a very arduous chemotherapy experience. For if I did not, I never would have created Unite for HER. It was these complementary therapies that gave me much-needed control back in my life and renewed my shaken confidence.

Finding Inspiration

About one year to the day that I was diagnosed, I remember attending an inspiring yoga event on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. It was there that one young woman caught my eye. A woman I recognized my former self in⁠—hair gone, yellowish skin tone, and hollow eyes. With my hair growing back, body restored, and emotional state balanced, I had so much I wanted to share with her.

I approached her (for that is what we do in this new sisterhood), hoping to empower her with my newfound knowledge of integrative therapies. I shared all I had learned, explaining about medical acupuncture, oncology massage therapy, yoga, and whole food nutrition. However, my advice was met with tears, followed by this simple statement, “Good for you. I could never afford that.”

There was the gap. My heart ached for her. I could afford these treatments, take a year off of work, and had a community of support. It was then that I went home and shared with my husband that I wanted to start a nonprofit. A nonprofit that could bring this type of programming to ALL women regardless of their income. This needed to become a part of the standard of care, funding and educating newly diagnosed women about the positive effects of integrative therapies during a cancer diagnosis. I wish I knew the name of the young woman who inspired me that day. She will always be in my heart and I share this story at the beginning of each Wellness Day we host. That vulnerable moment and recognition of a major gap was truly the inspiration for the creation of Unite for HER.

Looking Forward

Just as the seasons signify change, rebirth and growth, so too will this September for Unite for HER. It will mark new growth and change for our mission and outreach, expanding to women affected by ovarian cancer. Thank you for being “by OUR side” during the past 10 years and supporting the beautiful community of women we serve.

Today I reflect with grace and honor, giving thanks to a truly remarkable staff and board and of all of those who contributed to the movement and impact of Unite for HER.

If you pour enough love and support into someone or something, it is bound to soar- and for that I am forever grateful.

With love,

Sue

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