LEESBURG, Va. (WUSA9) -- Funding for breast cancer research, aimed at finding a cure, can top a billion dollars annually from both public and private sources. But until a cure is found, breast cancer survivors in Loudoun County can count on their sisters, their Step Sisters, to lend a helping hand.
To attack her Stage 3 breast cancer before surgery and eventual radiation treatments, Sandi Schultz comes to INOVA Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg, VA once a week for chemotherapy infusions. 12-sessions, about 3-months.
Even though Sandi could drive herself there, she's usually pretty exhausted after a chemo session. And its hard for her family to accompany her on every visit. But Sandi doesn't have to worry, because the Step Sisters have taken care of all her transportation needs.
Initially, the Step Sisters were an AVON 2-Day Walk team. For seven years their sole mission was to raise as much money as possible to fund finding a Cure.
But Step Sisters Angela Fuentes, herself a five-year survivor, and Ashley Campolattaro, who was her mom's caregiver, say the group's focus changed in order to provide more direct services to women hit with cancer.
Ashley says, "Flowers are nice, cards are nice, but if someone gosh, would mow the lawn, clean the house or leave fresh produce on my doorstep to come home, too. Again, once you've been through or witnessed it you have a greater understanding."
Step Sister Angela Fuentes, says their membership totals about 40-volunteers off and on. "We just started in January 2014 and we've helped 5-women...that we know of and provided 11-services total."
All of their most at need clients are referred to them by the Patient Navigators at INOVA Loudoun. The Step Sisters arrange for the services and pay the bill--but they never interact with the people they help.
Ashley Campolattaro says, "We're not looking for any thank yous. We just want to know we are making an impact."
As for making an impact, all they have to do is ask Sandi Schultz. "Between the hospital and the Step Sisters, I'm in very good hands, very loving caring hands," she says.
Learn more about Step Siters here: http://www.stepsisters.org/