Mastectomy bras and breast prostheses can cost up to $1,000. For people with lower incomes or women who are disproportionately affected by financial and societal barriers, these items are often a hard-to-obtain option, as it means choosing between bras or prostheses and other basic necessities, like food, rent, or childcare.
after BREAST CANCER (ABC) helps lower-income women gain access to the post-breast surgery items needed at no personal cost. ABC’s goal is to make sure no woman has to make this decision.
ABC’s founder and executive director, Alicia Vianga, realized this gap as a professional bra fitter when she was writing a booklet for Princess Margaret Hospital on prostheses. Vianga determined there needed to be a charity to help women obtain these items since no other charity does — ABC is her vision that’s come to fruition.
As Elizabeth Calderwood, ABC volunteer and York alumna, states, “Volunteering meant a lot of our fundraising was done through hosting in-person events. When the pandemic happened, a major source of income for the charity was suddenly lost, which meant women that needed our help would not be able to get it.”
“However, through shifting ABC’s focus to social media and running successful online campaigns like “#StayHealthyFor, Shine a Light and other holiday campaigns, we were able to have our most successful year in terms of donations in 2020.”
“Social media allowed us to spread our message and raise brand awareness on a much larger scale than ever before,” Calderwood adds.
Women’s day is about celebrating the lives of many women across the world. As Jennifer Schultz, ABC board ambassador and breast cancer survivor, says, it’s about “empowering women. It means honouring women’s past and present, their sacrifices, their triumphs, and their essences.”
Schultz is an amazing example of an accomplished woman, mother, and breast cancer survivor who advocates for others’ needs through her work with ABC and her projects outside.
Schultz uses her voice to advocate for those in need and explains that “as a white person, I do understand my privilege, but I also understand the need faced by many breast cancer survivors. Through my voice and advocacy, I work to ensure that financial disparities/needs do not hinder the patient from obtaining the items she needs.”
Today we should be celebrating the lives of all those who identify as women. Schultz explains, “Survival, our bodies as they are, our voices to rise above the din of society to speak truth to our various identities — womanhood is an umbrella that allows all who identify as women to be heard as a chorus of voices and not a cacophony.”
Furthermore, Calderwood wants to “celebrate the magic of women. Women are brilliant, intelligent, resilient humans. No matter what society throws at us to knock us down, we always get back up stronger than before.”
To learn more about ABC and their work, you can visit their online webpage here.