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Breast Friends on the cancer journey

Michael Solender

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Spend just five minutes speaking with Pam Phipps and you can't help but feel inspired by the work her organization is doing.

Phipps, a SouthPark area resident, is president of Carolina Breast Friends, a nonprofit that serves area women affected by breast cancer.

The organization was established to provide support, education, encouragement and assistance to those with breast cancer throughout every stage of their journey by women who have walked the same path.

With eight other area women, Phipps joined founder Kristy Adams-Ebel in forming CBF in 2003.

Adams-Ebel, age 32 at the time, sought to develop a support group that offered a positive and inspirational environment focused on healing through self-exploration and empowerment through knowledge, Phipps said.

When Adams-Ebel lost her battle with breast cancer in 2006, Phipps, a five-year breast cancer survivor herself, took over the organization's principal leadership role, and with more than 250 area members continues to expand the services.

Since its inception, Phipps said, CBF has touched close to 2,000 area women with services such as:

Distribution of “Inspiration Jars” to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients at both Presbyterian Hospital and Carolinas Medical Center. The jars contain 50 inspirational quotes from area women and include contact information for the patients to reach out to for support.

Workshops and group events geared toward living life with an attitude of sisterhood and survival.

A mentoring program in which members help newly diagnosed women of similar age and diagnosis navigate the difficult path ahead.

CBF's most ambitious vision, Project Pink House, a unique respite for those living with breast cancer, is well on its way to being realized. The planned facility would provide counseling services, fitness and nutrition centers, library and computer research center, arts and crafts workshops, retail boutique and a meditation garden.

Phipps says Project Pink House is targeted for opening sometime within the next two years.

Sites are being evaluated, and both private and public money is being raised for the estimated $4-5 million project.

Michael Solender lives in the SouthPark area and writes about the SouthPark and Cotswold areas. Reach him at michaeljsolender@ gmail.com.

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