SEMINOLE, FL--(Marketwire - Oct 17, 2012) - Alisa Savoretti, founder of My Hope Chest (www.MyHopeChest.org), is one of Oprah Magazine's Breast Cancer Heroes. When Savoretti found a lump in her breast in 2001, she was 38 and uninsured. After Medicaid turned her down, a social services program helped her pay for a mastectomy and chemotherapy, but not reconstructive surgery. Desperate for insurance and money to pay her mounting bills, Savoretti returned to her former career as a professional dancer in Las Vegas, billing herself as the Lopsided Showgirl to raise awareness of her plight. "It helped -- a lot -- to have a sense of humor," she says. "When I finally got my reconstruction, I named my girls Zsa Zsa and Ava."
In 2003 Savoretti founded a nonprofit called My Hope Chest to assist other patients in paying for reconstructive surgery, a procedure that can cost more than $50,000. While struggling to get her organization off the ground, she made ends meet by working a series of jobs (nanny, deli clerk, gardener); during her breaks she worked the phones to organize fund-raisers and set up pro bono operations. "We've served only a handful of patients to date," says Scott Sullivan, MD, a volunteer surgeon, "but each one has gained a new sense of hope."
"Many breast cancer Survivors are unable to afford the expensive series of reconstruction surgeries desired to return to a normal life. They are left to live in a horrible state," says Savoretti. "The end result for some women is a lack of self-esteem, enduring depression and many other debilitating facets; an awful place for a woman to be who has already faced a life-or-death health issue!"
My Hope Chest's mission is to expedite the healing process by providing surgeries as quickly as possible after mastectomy, restoring self-esteem and dignity to all breast cancer survivors. The organization is the only national non-profit that helps women complete the final step of recovery -- reconstruction. They also work to raise public awareness for the need of breast reconstruction as the missing part of treatment for uninsured survivors.