National Breast Cancer Foundation: How It All Started

National Breast Cancer Foundation

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Created in 1991, the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is one of the largest organizations in the country focused on fighting breast cancer. It all started a decade earlier, when founder Janelle Hail was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, there was little information about the disease that affects about one in every eight women in the U.S. To address this gap, Janelle Hail decided to help other women going through the same process.

It was 1980, and Hail was 34 years old when she found a lump in her breast as she was doing a self-examination. She was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. There was no Google, web, or internet, and Hail had very little information on-hand about her disease. She had to make decisions about her health based on the few therapeutic options she was offered. Hail underwent a mastectomy and she became a survivor, which she attributes to early detection.

As she was being treated for the disease, Hail realized there was a huge lack of information among women about self-examination, early detection, or breast cancer in general. She felt an urge to do something about the dismal situation and, when she left the hospital, she committed herself to helping other patients around the world by increasing education about breast cancer and raising awareness about the importance of early detection.

“Thirty-five years have passed since Janelle first encountered breast cancer. She was 34 years old, married, and the mother of three young sons,” the organization says about its founder. “Facing breast cancer in 1980 was not easy for women, since there was little information available for women about their healthcare. There was no internet, and a woman had to rely completely on whatever her doctor told her. That is, if she was careful enough to go to the doctor for regular checkups, as Janelle was.”

For a decade, Hail focused on training by writing and speaking about breast cancer, which resulted in the creation of the National Breast Cancer Foundation with the help of her family. “It became a family mission to band together to help the foundation succeed. NBCF did not start as many nonprofits do, with fame and fortune. It was created out of a God-given love for humanity and a calling on her life to help the needy,” says the foundation’s website.

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