When 35-year-old Nancy Block-Zenna was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, and her insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of her care, a couple of her closest friends responded by selling beach towels. They hoped to spread awareness and fundraise money to help Nancy receive treatment.
From these beach towels — adorned with a heart, a peace sign, and a pink ribbon — the “Peace Love and a Cure” campaign was born. Word quickly spread from the campaign’s origins in Long Island to the rest of New York, New Jersey, and Florida, where Nancy’s family and other friends had heard about her situation and wanted to help by fundraising themselves.
Nancy’s insurance company ultimately agreed to pay for her chemotherapy, and with the money her friends had earned, they founded the Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) Foundation in 2006.
“Her friends rallied around her because there was nothing for her at the time,” says Ricki Fairley, a trustee for the TNBC Foundation and a 10-year TNBC survivor. “No one really knew what triple-negative was. We didn’t have good doctors, good treatments — we are just getting treatments now almost 20 years later.”
Almost three years after her diagnosis, Nancy passed away, having to say goodbye to her family — including her little girl, Jolie — and all the friends that had supported her throughout her diagnosis and treatment.
Today, the TNBC Foundation serves as a supportive community for those who have been diagnosed with TNBC, as well as an educational resource on the disease. The organization continues to fundraise in order to help fund research on TNBC in the hopes that one day, a cure will be found.
Their Goal Fairley says that the organization aims to act as a major resource for TNBC patients, survivors, and their families.
“We want to be the haven,” Fairley says. “When you get diagnosed, we are the source of all the information.”
Services They Provide One of the things the TNBC Foundation offers members of its community are connections to online discussion groups made up of other people who are diagnosed with TNBC, according to Fairley. With these discussion groups, which are active 24/7, you can ask questions about treatments, side effects, and pretty much anything else having to do with your diagnosis.
“I remember waking up on my first chemo at four o’clock in the morning, having this bone pain, thinking, ‘Oh, my God, my cancer has gone to my bones,’” Fairley says. “I wasn’t gonna reach my doctor at 4 a.m., so I went into the discussion groups and they’re like, ‘Ricki, you’re fine. Take a Tylenol and go to bed.’”
On top of the 24/7 discussion boards, the organization hosts "metastatic Mondays," a support group for people who have been diagnosed with metastatic TNBC, held on the first Monday of each month, as well as another support group meeting on the first Tuesday of each month for all patients with TNBC.
You can also connect with other community members through the foundation’s Facebook page.
Events Each year, the TNBC foundation celebrates TNBC Awareness Day, which falls on March 3. It’s one of their biggest fundraising days of the year, Fairley says, and this year, the foundation is putting 100 percent of the donations they receive during the month of March towards funding research on TNBC. The foundation will also be putting on several virtual events throughout the month.
The foundation hosts another annual fundraiser, “No One Fights Alone,” which is being held this year on May 25, along with webinars on a variety of topics related to TNBC throughout the year. You can find recordings of their previous webinars and other upcoming events on their website.
Motto “No one fights alone.”
“We want people to feel like we have arms wrapped around them,” Fairley says. “That they have a place to go, that they have a support system, that they have love, and information, and resources.”