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Championing a Cause

09/02/2011 02:10PM ● Published by Anonymous

Every 13 minutes a woman dies from breast cancer in the United States. Sherri Arnold Graham, a Fayetteville resident and breast cancer survivor, learned that statistic and decided to do something about it. She formed an organization that reaches out to others affected by the disease. As Founder and Executive Director of “The Sherri Arnold Graham Foundation,” a ministry for breast cancer awareness and support, Sherri is an international conference presenter and her Foundation has not only served women locally in Fayetteville, but throughout the U.S., the Caribbean and in England.

Twelve years ago, when Sherri was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she became acutely aware of how many individuals are not coping well with the disease in part because they lack financial and other support. She was astounded by the additional burden the disease places on the many sufferers in our community who do not have health insurance and can’t afford many treatment options.

“I share a burden for others who are at risk for breast cancer,” Sherri said. “I’ve seen many who have underwent chemotherapy treatments by themselves and then had to drive themselves home.”

With a vision and goal in mind, she took her business plan to local churches to garner support before launching the Foundation. Though she said she knew she had found her calling, she was worried about having her name become synonymous with breast cancer. Before long, however, she realized that if she was willing to go forward and serve others, she could make a difference in many lives.

Sherri has partnered with Manna Church, Cape Fear Valley Health System and Rex Hospital for financial support. “An uninsured status gives you V.I.P. status in our Foundation,” said Graham. “Building relationships are being the hands of feet of Christ and this foundation is a conduit to healing.”

[caption w caption="The mobile unit goes out twice a year to Grove View Terrace, Campbell Terrace and other underprivileged areas in Fayetteville where most residents do not have health insurance or the means to take care of preventive medicine. After the free mammogram and education session, each woman receives a lavender rose."][/caption]

First she created Lighthouse Communications, which relays healthcare information to people who are at risk. The services and literature are free of charge and available in English and Spanish. Lighthouse Communications has three main goals: Breast health awareness, education and mammography outreach; helping people cope with physical afflictions; and reducing the health disparities found in minority communities.

Next, her Foundation began sending a mobile breast cancer screening unit to underprivileged communities. Now the unit goes out twice a year to Grove View Terrace, Campbell Terrace and other underprivileged areas in Fayetteville where most residents do not have health insurance or the means to take care of preventive medicine. After the free mammogram and education session, each woman receives a lavender rose.

The Foundation’s theme is a lighthouse in the midst of a storm, with God’s hands around the lighthouse. Each woman who is newly diagnosed with breast cancer is presented with a basket full of $70 worth of therapeutic goodies that Sherri found comforting during her battle with breast cancer: A CD of soothing ocean music, lavender linen spray, lavender foot scrub, a lighthouse figurine and some other items.

Sherri said the baskets filled with lavender scented items have significance for her because after her surgery she THOUGHT SHE WAS? rejoicing and rolling in a field of flowers. Later she realized that her husband had sprayed her hospital bedding with the lavender linen spray because it is known for its soothing qualities. Now she associates the smell of lavender with that happy feeling and so she tries to share that experience with other women.

Sherri is greatly in need of volunteers to share love and provide support for those undergoing this devastating disease. Foundation volunteers go with breast cancer sufferers to their appointments and often help provide meals for patients after their hospital visits.

To learn more about the Foundation or to volunteer, obtain more details at www. lighthousesignals.org

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