Driven by Heart: Celebrating 10 Years of Breast Cancer Support Services
Breast cancer survivor and Driven by Heart founder Sherry Palmer believes “women can do anything if they know what the plan is. So we try to give them a plan.”
Palmer’s vision, Driven by Heart, is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization created in 2009 to ensure no Brevard County woman goes through breast cancer alone. Funded by special events and donations from community sponsors, Driven by Heart provides free services to any woman who needs them. Over the past 10 years, her brainchild has supported over 2,000 women in Brevard.
The organization hosts its annual “Joy of Life” luncheon at the end of March. About 350 people who have been touched by breast cancer will attend this year’s 10-year milestone party. Guests will include breast cancer survivors along with their families, friends, and doctors.
Palmer says she was moved to start Driven by Heart after she successfully battled breast cancer.
“When I got diagnosed, there was no one to talk to,” said Palmer. “No one could tell me what to expect during surgery or chemo. So I just went into it blindly. I wanted a place where women could talk about all the things no one tells you.”
But what Palmer created is much more than just a breast cancer support group. Yes, they host monthly meetings, but they also pair each newly diagnosed woman with a survivor of a similar occurrence, giving them unparalleled one-on-one support. This relationship is what sets Driven by Heart apart.
“We are truly a new patient’s first point of contact after they have met with their doctor,” said board member Tracy Kohlstedt. “We guide each patient through what she should be doing and who she needs on her team. We hold their hands through the process, from beginning to end.”
Newly diagnosed patients receive a copy of “The Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook,” which includes suggestions for questions to ask your doctor along with room to take notes and track appointments. Driven by Heart hosts monthly meetings — some geared specifically to women by age, others by type of cancer — and invites in speakers to further educate and empower women.
Driven by Heart also works to ensure every woman is as comfortable as possible throughout her treatment. The office has a fully stocked “girls’ room,” filled with wigs, bras, and shower shirts. Medical supplies that can make patients’ recovery more tolerable are also available. The organization even offers organic toiletries for patients undergoing chemo or radiation.
Through it all, Driven by Heart never loses focus on its most important mission — to ensure that no woman goes through her breast cancer journey alone.
“Our organization was created out of love,” Palmer said. “After a support group meets, when I see the girls who are done with treatment talking and exchanging numbers with a new girl, that’s when I know it is working.”
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