My name is Colleen, and I’m a Breast Cancer Survivor.
I formed this nonprofit with the promise to provide a Harbor Of Hope for women affected by early-stage cancer.
Several years ago, I was diagnosed with dense breast tissue. I quickly recognized the importance of yearly mammograms and scheduled each one without fail.
It was my last mammogram that my doctor identified an invasive lobular cancerous tumor on my left breast. My doctor recommended an MRI which then detected an invasive ductal cancer on my right breast.
Before my doctor even approached the topic, I knew I would have a double mastectomy. With the help of my husband and mother, I began to research my options and what to expect. I found myself asking "Why is this happening to me?" I was confused, lost, and didn’t know where to find answers or the support I genuinely needed. I admit, I felt helpless at times, but thanks to my family and friends, I still had hope.
Embracing the Journey.
I felt I had only two choices. Sink or swim, as the saying goes. I started swimming. I reached out and asked every woman I met, “Do you know anyone who has had cancer?” I found comfort through new contacts, personal stories, and answers to many of my questions. I surrounded myself with a new network of friends and resources I never thought I’d need, but now can’t imagine living without.
Two months following my diagnosis, I had my surgery. My doctors found that both cancers had doubled in size, one tumor had grown into my skin, and a third invasive ductal tumor had formed.
A day after my surgery I received a call from a cancer organization asking me to participate in a cancer walk, but it was too soon. Due to complications, I was to remain in bed after my surgery. Even so, I was still hoping this would lead to a new friendship, but I never heard from her again.
I tried hard to keep my spirits high. I found myself facing new challenges in search of additional support.
Once my restrictions were reduced, I visited a cancer foundation for assistance. The people were nice but didn’t offer much support or guidance for women with early-stage cancer. I was shocked and highly disappointed. But I was also determined.
Like many women on this same journey, I yearned for a safe, positive, nurturing, all-encompassing environment where I could find companionship and hope. I wanted a place that offered activities I could physically tolerate and services that would help improve my quality of life. I couldn’t find one.
I started asking"What is this teaching me?"
Engaging in Life.
As I lay in bed recovering, I researched, enrolled in online classes, became certified in Nonprofit Management, and reached out to my network of experience, strength, and hope to create that special place I so desperately needed. I founded Harbor Of Hope Women’s Cancer Foundation.
I hope you join me on my journey.
– Colleen Woolley , Founder
Harbor Of Hope Women’s Cancer Foundation
Encourage. Embrace. Engage.
If you're a woman with cancer or a cancer survivor, we'd love to hear from you. What challenges and successes have you experienced on your journey? What inspiration would you like to share with those on the path behind you?
Once, I replaced the question,
"Why is this happening to me?" with "What is this teaching me?"