TAMPA - Ruth Peavey is getting her first check-up after reconstruction surgery.
In a little pain, her spirit is soaring, because her dream took 14 years to become a reality.
Diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39, she said, "I had a lumpectomy and it was followed up by a single mastectomy."
She had insurance and was offered reconstruction, but declined. "After going through two surgeries and dealing with all the testing involved, I didn't want to go through surgery again. So I decided I could handle this. I could be without a breast and it wouldn't bother me."
But it did.
"It was the fact of the scar. It was the fact that when I looked at myself, I didn't feel like a whole woman. I know I should be thankful, and I am that I'm cancer-free, but there's something about losing a breast that doesn't make you feel complete as a woman."
But by that time, her husband had retired, and they had no health insurance.
She struggled with her self-image for more than a decade and then, "I heard of My Hope Chest on our local news and I thought this is a great organization. I'm going to go on their web site and see."
My Hope Chest - based out of St. Petersburg - was created by a local breast cancer survivor who also needed reconstruction but couldn't' afford it. Her name is Ailsa Savoretti. "My Hope Chest is the only national non-profit funding breast reconstruction for uninsured and under-insured breast cancer survivors. Our services pick up where all the other breast cancer organizations leave off, providing the final step of breast cancer treatment which is not being met for the uninsured at this time."
Despite doctors, like St. Pete's Antonio Gayoso, donating their time, there are still expenses like OR fees and the implants themselves that cost money.
Genie Bra recently partnered with My Hope Chest to create The Granting Wishes campaign, funding surgery costs for My Hope Chest clients. Ruth Ann was the first recipient.
She says, "I expect this to make a big difference. I expect to feel completely different about myself. I expect my confidence to go up.
Twenty percent of the proceeds from a designated pink Genie Bra will go to My Hope Chest to fund surgeries like Ruth's. One-hundred percent of her costs were covered, and there is a long waiting list behind her.
To find out more, visit http://www.geniecomfort.com/myhopechest/