History and Major Accomplishments
The Breast Cancer Assistance Group of the Monterey Peninsula (BCAG) is a small, non-profit, community-based service provider operating in the health field.
The organization was founded in 1997 by four women with breast cancer who felt that this community’s assistance to women with their disease could be broader and more thoughtfully conceived. The mission statement is “We want to help other women with this disease as we would want to be helped ourselves.” Specifically, these founders were moved by the pro-active approach and attitude of a close friend who had not survived. They had three goals and they made significant progress in each area. First, they envisioned a single site dedicated to women with breast cancer, a place where women would be treated with particular understanding of their needs with a medical team approach. Their vision, in addition to their fundraising efforts, contributed to the development of the Breast Care Center which Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP) opened in 2002.
Second they had helped each other with peer counseling through their early years with breast cancer. Their efforts contributed to the development of the Patient Navigator Program, currently administered by the CHOMP Comprehensive Cancer Center and the American Cancer Society. This very active program matches newly diagnosed people with cancer survivors in a 1:1 peer support helping relationship.
The third objective of BCAG founders was educational, to supply relevant information about breast cancer to patients, survivors and their families through regular public meetings with guest speakers.
Although the Breast Cancer Assistance Group of the Monterey Peninsula retains its educational component, since 2001 BCAG has focused increasingly on helping local women who have financial difficulties related to breast cancer diagnosis, treatment or recovery. Of the one in seven women who experience breast cancer, many will bear the additional problem of being unable to pay for their ongoing living expenses as well as for treatment and related services they need to combat their disease. In most cases, an entire family can be financially impacted when a woman has breast cancer.
On an on-going basis, BCAG receives applications for assistance directly from breast cancer patients, frequently referred by their physicians, their hospitals, or other agencies. BCAG gives assistance in the form of Special Needs Grants which are awarded after reviewing applications, interviewing applicants and, usually, talking with their physicians. In addition, BCAG is actively engaged in outreach efforts to women who may need but not know about Special Needs Grants.
BCAG has provided financial assistance to hundreds of women with breast cancer on the Monterey Peninsula. This has been possible through BCAG’s own fundraising efforts, such as the annual Bowl-a-thon, and through the support of several community organizations and businesses. Chief among these are Carmel Valley Ranch Women's Golf Association, Oya Salon of Monterey, California Rodeo Salinas and Yellow Brick Road. In addition, BCAG has received grants designated solely for administrative expenses from the Community Foundation for Monterey County and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation.