Breast cancer is a treacherous disease that attacks its victims both physically and mentally. Whether you just learned of your diagnosis, are in treatment, finishing treatment, or have a friend or family member with breast cancer, breast cancer changes your life and the lives of those around you.
It's a time of urgency in your life when you need support.
Breast cancer and its treatment can change how you look and feel about yourself. Know that you aren't alone in how you feel. Many others have similar feelings.
Changes in the way you look can also be hard for your loved ones, which in turn, can be hard on you. For example, parents and grandparents often worry about how they look to a child or grandchild. They fear that changes in their appearance may scare the child or get in the way of their staying close.
The harsh reality is that many women do not have insurance or the necessary resources to obtain the supplies needed to help them maintain their dignity and confidence on their cancer journey.
Those words are at the core of why the Apopka Breast Cancer Supply Center exists.
In September 2020, the Center opened its doors after the First Baptist Church of Apopka purchased two nearby buildings - one of them with a familiar owner to Apopka residents.
"Debbie Turner (of the Debbie Turner Cancer Care and Resource Center) left her entire inventory in the building," said Arlina Faircloth, the director of the Apopka Breast Cancer Supply Center. "When she sold the business, she said, 'I'm leaving all these supplies for you guys to do whatever you would like to do with them.'"
Faircloth, a breast cancer survivor from 2000, answered the challenge - more of a calling, actually.
"I decided to do something with cancer patients, especially breast cancer, which was my cancer," she said. "I saw the opportunity to do something about it, and I asked the pastor, if they go through with the purchase, could I help with the Cancer Center?"
David Schorejs, the Lead Pastor of First Baptist Church of Apopka, told Faircloth to go for it.
And like a miner who staked their modest claim in Deadwood, SD in the 1870s only to strike gold on the first turn of a shovel, Faircloth discovered a bounty of supplies in Turner's former building.
"We started checking everything," Faircloth said. "We have all the inventory and everything, and that's how it came about. We have a lot of supplies... really, a lot of supplies. We were very surprised when we saw the amount of supplies that were there."
Unfortunately, it has been mostly supply without demand... or supply without publicity might be a better description. Oh, and a start date of September 2020 might ring a bell as not exactly the opportune moment to launch a new charity.
"The problem was COVID," Faircloth said. "During COVID, we always asked people to call us to make an appointment. We were not open all the time, because we didn't have as much traffic. We had good flyers and we did everything we could, but COVID was one of the things that really hurt the service because many people didn't come and sometimes we couldn't come either. We never said no to anybody, but there was not many people that wanted to come during COVID."
Google "Breast Cancer Supplies in Central Florida" and you will learn the extreme need for this Center, and how important it is for Apopka residents. But now, with the pandemic in their rearview mirror, Faircloth and the Apopka Breast Cancer Supply Center are ready to help a lot more people in 2023.
"Many women have treatments that leave them with thinning or no hair. We have wigs to help women feel more confident at no charge," she said. "For those who experience mastectomies, we can also assist with prostheses and bras, again at no charge. We know that there are many women who could benefit from the center, and we are anxious to spread the word."
Visits are still by appointment and can be made by calling 321-209-8400. If you wish to donate, please go to fbcapopka.net, select the give button, and choose Open Door from the drop-down menu. Donations are used to replace supplies as they are needed.
Breast cancer can be detected early, and that usually results in more positive outcomes. It is recommended that women start having screenings between 40-49 years of age, depending on family history.
Schedule your screening soon and remind those you love to do the same.