HEAL provides much-needed support to Valley mothers battling cancer
When Lauren Daniels was 35, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time of her diagnosis, Daniels, a North Scottsdale resident, had kids who ranged from 1 to 11 years old. And although she had to have a difficult three surgeries in four months, Daniels credits her husband, Sean, her family and her friends with giving her the strength to get through the ordeal.
“I had such an amazing support system,” she says. “Several months into my recovery, I was chatting with another mom named Janet who also had breast cancer. She told me she could not talk long because she had to take her son to hockey practice. It was literally at this moment that I realized that although a cancer diagnosis is never welcome at any age, being a mom with cancer comes with a whole different set of challenges.”
Daniels then decided that she wanted to do something to help other mothers battling cancer. So, in 2004, she founded the Happily Ever After League (HEAL), a non-profit organization that provides financial and other forms of support to mothers with cancer.
“On the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis, we had a silent auction dinner with 200 people who knew me in one way, shape or form, and raised $50,000 that night,” says Daniels.“I knew we were in business then and had already reached out to many social workers and doctors offices. They started referring patients to us almost immediately and still do today.”
Since founding HEAL, Daniels says around 1,000 local moms have received help and support.
“We help an average of 70 new moms per year,” she says, adding that HEAL has met its goal of never turning away a qualifying mom in need.
One of the many ways that HEAL helps moms who are in active cancer treatment is through a one-time financial grant in the form of a gift card.
“The gift card can be used to pay for medical co-payments, mediations, gas needed to get to appointments or whatever their greatest need is,” Daniels says.
Another way moms with cancer get support through HEAL is by visiting the HEALing House, located in a residential neighborhood not far from the Paradise Valley Mall in Phoenix, which Daniels opened in October, 2007.
“We opened the HEALing House because we had a park day for our families and realized how much they needed the social support of others going through cancer recovery,” she says. “We knew the grants were helpful, but we wanted to do more.”
“All of our events are very uplifting; it is like a support group without the circle. We do craft projects, give makeovers and have movie nights, as well as many holiday-related parties. We also have a food pantry that is open once a month,” she adds.
Daniels is now very grateful to announce that she has celebrated 13 years of being cancer free.
“My oncologist broke up with me a couple of years ago, and that was one of the best break ups I could say I have had,” she says.
Founding HEAL has also been a big part of Daniels’ own healing process as well.
“Sometimes helping moms with cancer can hit a little too close to home, but the rewards of knowing our efforts have made a difference in so many lives far outweighs the difficult parts.”
To learn more about HEAL and/or to make a donation or apply for assistance, visit HappilyEverAfterLeague.org.