It's no exaggeration to say I wouldn't be alive today without a group called FORCE. Ok. That is a bit of an exaggeration, but I've never been one to shy away from hyperbole. The truth is, I wouldn't be sane without FORCE. About three weeks after I learned my BRCA status, in April 2009, I attended my first FORCE meeting at the home of a woman who would become a dear friend. Brain foggy with fear, eyes baggy from lack of sleep, nerves jangly with anxiety, I walked into a room of women who understood exactly what I felt like... and my life was forever changed. A few weeks later, I attended the annual FORCE conference, where I learned more about my risks and what I could do about them; I met more women just like me and learned more about what the road ahead -- from options regarding surveillance and surgery to recovery and reconstruction -- looked like. From the first moment I connected to the organization, I knew I was a part of a community whose support would be vital to me as I made my risk-reducing decisions and beyond. And it has been. I can't imagine having gone through what I did in the last year without FORCE.
Simply put, FORCE provides an indispensable service: it connects women at high-risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in peer support networks and advocates on our behalf. But for me, it's been so much more: a lifeline, a community, an example to aspire to. FORCE is the only cancer charity that focuses exclusively on hereditary cancers, and it's one of the only places where women like me -- previvors, or women who have a high risk for but have not yet developed breast cancer -- have a voice.
I believe FORCE is an organization worth supporting, and luckily, it's pretty easy to do. Chase Community Giving is preparing to donate $5 million to 200 local charities, and if FORCE receives enough votes, it could be awarded anywhere from $20K to $250K. With that money, FORCE could do so much to improve the lives -- and options available to -- women and men affected by hereditary cancer. Casting a vote is easy. Here's how to do it:
If you are on Facebook then it’s very simple to vote. The first thing you do is go here: http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving
The next step is to join the movement by scrolling down just a little bit on the page and clicking the ‘Like’ button.
Next step: Click the big green ‘Search’ button and copy this text: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered and paste it in the box that says ‘Charity Name.’
Click the big blue ‘Search’ button to the right of that.
After you click that, you’ll see Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered in blue lettering. Click it.
Scroll down and check the box that says: “Please display my name and profile picture below so this charity knows it can contact me to get more involved.”
Click ‘submit’. A ‘Request for Permission’ box will pop up. Click ‘Allow’.
Vote – and share (and share and share and share again) with your friends, and ask them to share with their friends, and so on. This is the key to getting the word out there, especially as we are only allowed one vote per person per charity.
Here's more information about FORCE and what they'd do with the money if they got it:
• To provide women with resources to determine whether they are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer due to genetic predisposition, family history, or other factors.
• To provide information about options for managing and living with these risk factors.
• To provide support for women as they pursue these options.
• To provide support for families facing these risks.
• To raise awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
• To represent the concerns and interests of our high-risk constituency to the cancer advocacy community, the scientific and medical community, the legislative community, and the general public.
• To promote research specific to hereditary cancer.
• To reduce disparities among under-served populations by promoting access to information, resources and clinical trials specific to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
What would FORCE do with the money if they won?
$1,000 delivers the latest in BRCA research and information to 500 families.
$500 gives 60,000 visitors access to their website for one month.
$300 provides a scholarship to FORCE’s annual conference to one person that could not otherwise attend.
$200 provides life-saving information to 100 people through their newsletter.
$100 provides phone-based support and resources via the Helpline for one month.
$50 provides a package of informational brochures to doctor’s offices and hospitals.
Just think, if $2250 can do all of that, a lot more good could come if FORCE places in the top two hundred charities.
Voting on Facebook starts on June 15, 2010 and the lucky 200 winning charities will be announced on July 13, 2010. Please take two minutes out of your day to vote for FORCE. They've made a huge difference in my life; your vote could help them make a difference in the lives of so many others.