“Breast cancer awareness goes on in this room, not just in October, but every day, 365 days a year,” said Amy Goldson, the Mastectomy fitter for Breast Friends. “Without funding, there is no future for this program.”
The program provides prosthetics and prosthetic bras for women who have lost their breasts due to breast cancer. It is the only facility of its kind south of San Antonio, and does not cost the women who use it anything.
“What we continue to do is all based on the generosity of our community,” Goldson said. “Fundraising events, personal donations, that’s what keeps this program running, and it is a very expensive program.”
Goldson is the only person who has performed the fittings for the entirety of the program’s existence, and has fit more than 1,000 women in the Coastal Bend.
“It’s something that most people don’t think of, but once a woman has gone through all of this, it’s so important that she be able to put her clothes on, that the clothes fit right, that she feels comfortable and is able to just go out and buy groceries after going through the incredible journey they have just gone through,” Goldson said.
One of those women, Elizabeth Hardin, was first diagnosed with breast cancer 35 years ago. Living in California at the time, Hardin received a lumpectomy (a partial mastectomy) and a lymphadenectomy (removal of her lymph node).
“It was about 33 years that I went just trying to fill my bra with something so I’d have some kind of balance,” Hardin said. “That really plays a big part in your psyche, and how you feel about yourself, and your physical being, because you’re always off balance.”
Around two years ago, Hardin met Goldson, who encouraged her to come to get fitted for a prosthetic. Last year, Hardin was once again diagnosed with breast cancer, and had one of her breasts removed. She once again came in for a breast fitting.
“I can’t express well enough how important this has been for me, and I think it would be for anyone who chose to come here,” Hardin said. “To be able to look at myself and not cringe, it’s just a miracle to be able to feel whole again.”
At the time of receiving the prosthetic, Hardin didn’t have insurance that would’ve covered receiving one.
“That held me back for so many years, to even look into it,” she said. “When I found out about the service they offer here, it was like a miracle — for me it was a miracle.”
However, providing this service for women of the Coastal Bend is not cheap. A bra and prosthetic for a woman with a single mastectomy costs the program around $250.
For double mastectomies, that number is around $500.
As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Goldson asks the people of the Coastal Bend to consider donating to Breast Friends.
“When money is given to this program, every dollar given goes to buy more bras and prosthesis, which is used by women here in South Texas, that have a desperate need for it,” she said.
Checks or cash can be dropped off to the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation at 2882 Holly Rd., or people can call the office at 361-814-2001 for more information on how to donate.