What’s Your Favorite Charity?
I have a lot of charities I support, but there’s one group of charities that are especially important to Sabrina O’Hara, the heroine of my first novel, Thirty-Nine Again. Sabrina’s a breast cancer survivor, and because of that, I’m donating a portion of all royalties I receive for Thirty-Nine Again to various breast cancer awareness charities.
Probably the most famous breast cancer awareness charity now is the Susan Komen Foundation, named in honor of the deceased sister of the organization’s founder. This is the group that sponsors annual Race for the Cure runs all over the country. Their very admirable goal is to raise awareness about the disease, and about the importance of early diagnosis and finding a cure.
There are a lot of other very worthy breast cancer charities in addition to Susan Komen, though. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is one I have supported for a long time. They’re dedicated to raising funds to support research into the causes and cures of breast cancer. Two lesser known breast cancer charities that are also doing very useful work are: Living Beyond Breast Cancer, which focuses on helping breast cancer survivors to adjust to their new bodies and their new lives, and Save the Ta-Tas. Yes, you read that right. Save the Ta-Tas uses humor and wit to try to reach younger women and make them aware of the risks of breast cancer.
While breast cancer is far more common in women over 40, it is more likely to be deadly in younger women. Often, this is because they are diagnosed much later than their older counterparts. In researching a series of articles on breast cancer that I wrote for The Baltimore Sun many years ago, I heard more than one heartbreaking story about a younger woman who found a lump and was told she was “too young” to have breast cancer. Instead, she might be told it was a cyst and to just keep an eye on it and come back in six months or even a year. By then, of course, the cancer was much more advanced and harder to treat. The lesson here, for women of all ages, is pretty simple: be your own advocate. If you think something is wrong with your body, don’t allow a doctor or other health care provider to dismiss you. And if you’re health insurance won’t pay for a mammogram yet because you’re “too young,” then hey – maybe you should schedule it on your own and whip out that credit card to pay for it! If you really can’t afford that sort of expense, be aware that there are also charities such as the American Breast Cancer Foundation who work to provide better access to mammograms for women who can’t afford them.
Thirty-Nine Again is mainly meant to be a fun, thrilling adventure about a heroine finding new purpose in the second half of her life. But I also wrote it to honor various friends and acquaintances who are breast cancer survivors. I don’t expect to make scads of money off the book, but I do hope that by contributing some of my royalties to one of these many worthy charities, I’ll be helping some other women like them.