TEMECULA – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center offers its services to breast cancer patients all year round. It has been serving individuals and their families impacted by cancer for 16 years. Since its inception, Michelle’s Place has been a beacon of hope for thousands of individuals fighting breast cancer and other cancers, by providing free resources, education and support services to the community.
It was just over 16 years ago that the Watson family founded Michelle’s Place in memory of their daughter Michelle, who died from breast cancer at just 26 years old. Knowing there was a better, more inclusive way that people impacted by breast cancer could live with hope and support, Michelle’s Place was founded to fill that need on a local and more intimate level.
During its 16-year tenure, Michelle’s Place has provided more than 110,000 services to individuals and families throughout Riverside and San Bernardino counties as well as North San Diego County. These services include free or low-cost diagnostic services, temporary financial assistance, support groups, Thriver Retreats, educational seminars, free wigs, hats, bras, prosthesis, and so much more.
Since 2001, Michelle’s Place has served over 10,000 men and women battling breast cancer. In 2016 alone, Michelle’s Place served over 650 newly diagnosed women with breast cancer, provided over 12,650 services, and gave over $50,000 in financial assistance.
On average, Michelle’s Place sees over 70 new clients a month, many of whom are under 40 years old. The approach is client-centered, with each receiving individualized attention, guidance, and care during the breast cancer diagnosis and treatment process. At Michelle’s Place, the women and families enter a safe environment where they can find answers to questions and gain much needed support in a consistent, nurturing environment that fosters healing, growth, empowerment, and enhanced quality of life.
Operating on a vision that no one will face cancer alone, Michelle’s Place offers a range of support groups including a breast cancer support group for those newly diagnosed or currently in treatment, a metastatic support group for those living with breast cancer, a Spanish-speaking support group, an ovarian support group, and a support group for kids whose parents have cancer. Other free services include weekly yoga classes, Reiki, guided meditation, Look Good Feel Better by the American Cancer Society, haircuts, and an Expressive Art Class.
Michelle’s Place offers the Pink Ribbon Assistance Program, which offers temporary financial assistance, back-to-school assistance, which provides a backpack full of school supplies for their school-aged children, Thanksgiving meal assistance, and a Holiday program that offers Christmas presents to their children under 18 years old.
Michelle’s Place also provides free to low-cost breast health services to uninsured or under-insured women. With the advances in healthcare reform, Michelle’s Place has noticed a shift in need from free breast health services to a need for patient navigation. After a breast cancer diagnosis, patients are often overwhelmed and confused about their options. Michelle’s Place offers patient navigation services to help them understand their diagnosis and provide every resource available to them.
Early detection is key to surviving breast cancer. The overall 5-year relative survival rate for female breast cancer patients has improved from 75 percent in 1977, to now 99 percent with women diagnosed with localized breast cancer. This increase is due largely to improvements in treatment (i.e., chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted drugs) and to earlier diagnosis. Michelle’s Place encourages women to take control of their health and be their own health advocate by checking themselves regularly for signs of breast cancer.
Anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer can contact Michelle’s Place. For more information visit www.michellesplace.org or call (951) 699-5455. Michelle’s Place is a 501c3 non-profit organization.