Breast cancer is a family affair, but Heather Salazar gives that notion new meaning. While a family friend neared the end of her struggle with Stage 4 cancer in 2001, Heather and her family adopted Lexi, the woman’s baby girl. With three children already in the family, the decision to care for a fourth wasn’t easy. Five weeks later, however, they welcomed their new daughter.
As if losing Lexi’s mother to breast cancer wasn’t difficult enough, two years later Heather was diagnosed with the disease. Would Lexi lose two mothers? How would Heather care for everyone while receiving her own? After winning her war with cancer, Heather aimed to answer questions like these for women in the same position.
As Executive Director of Pink Ribbon Girls, she provides essentials so families can focus on treatment. Helping patients with things like cooking, cleaning, childcare, and transportation is the organization’s specialty.
Heather hopes the programs also provide parents with ways to talk to their children about cancer. “Be truthful about your illness,” she says, “but make sure it’s on their level.” She also recommends counseling as “a safe place” for teenagers to confront their fears.
Breast cancer affects more than mom; it affects the whole family. With women like Heather working to make cancer’s impact more manageable, families can put their attention toward recovery.
Read our stories:
Erin - Getting uninsured women the support they need.
Nancy – Preaching the importance of early detection.
Heather – Helping families focus on recovery.
Dawn – A one-woman powerhouse in the Race Against breast cancer.
Arlene - Meeting great need.
Janice – Helping patients pay it forward.
Nora – Helping patients through education.
Susan - Always aware.