Who We Help


100% of the people we serve are low income

The median monthly income of all BCEF clients is $766.00. BCEF helps people live with dignity and meet basic needs.


Over 80% of all BCEF clients cannot work throughout their intensive breast cancer treatment.

Loss of steady income impacts medical benefits and housing security. BCEF helps people stabilize care and housing.


More than 50% of BCEF clients request services in languages other than English.

Spanish, followed by Cantonese, are the top two most commonly requested languages. BCEF’s bilingual staff provides culturally and linguistically competent services. BCEF provides free professional medical translation to all clients.


35% of BCEF clients have more than one dependent child in their households.

Providing for their children remains a priority for BCEF clients who are mothers, often at the expense of their own self-care and timely medical treatment. BCEF helps a woman focus on herself knowing that her family is also cared for.

Client Stories



Trying to stabilize family housing during recovery

Lucia is a mother of three children who was diagnosed at an early stage but experienced a series of complications that required multiple surgeries. Her husband Federico is self-employed. He juggled his schedule to care for his children and his wife. The family already struggled to meet the rising cost of basic living needs during the economic downturn. Lucia’s last surgery coincided with the family’s long-awaited approval to move into permanent subsidized housing. They found a safe and affordable apartment in their own neighborhood. Lucia and Federico were thrilled that amidst so much financial and medical uncertainty, their children could remain at the same school with their friends. The housing subsidy enables the family to afford monthly rent plus living expenses but the security deposit was cost-prohibitive. Federico borrowed from friends and family but was still short the required move-in amount. A member of Lucia’s support network called BCEF to see if we could assist her. BCEF immediately paid the full rental deposit and the family moved into their new home the following week. With secure, affordable housing, Lucia and Federico can focus on what matters most: health and family.



Living with metastatic breast cancer and unable to fill prescriptions

Sharon is living with metastatic breast cancer. She is unable to work throughout her intensive treatment but meets basic living expenses by combining social security disability with a modest government pension. Sharon worried that Medicare would not cover the full scope of cancer treatment so she purchased a supplemental insurance plan. During treatment, Sharon developed a serious bacterial infection, a rare side effect of chemotherapy. She was initially relieved that she had prepared for the cost of unplanned hospitalization and cancer treatment. However, during her hospitalization, Sharon learned that she had hit a Medicare “donut hole” — neither Medicare nor the supplemental plan she had purchased would pay for her antibiotics. Despite conservative financial planning, Sharon could not budget for such a large unanticipated out-of-pocket medical expense. Her medical social worker contacted BCEF for help. She was especially concerned because Sharon could not afford to fill the prescribed antibiotics and had proposed two dire alternatives: to reduce the amount of medication or to reduce the duration of medication. Both options would put her at great medical risk. BCEF immediately called a pharmacy in Sharon’s neighborhood to enable Sharon to fill the full prescription that same day with a grant. Thanks to BCEF’s timely and compassionate assistance, Sharon recovered from the infection and was able to resume vital life-extending breast cancer treatment.  



Single mother unable to provide for family while
disabled by breast cancer

Arnette is a single mother who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She works as a court reporter and has always been able to provide for her two children. Three years ago, she purchased a private insurance plan that has excellent coverage for her children. The health plan offered low monthly premiums but a high deductible, which suited her family’s needs quite well until Arnette discovered a lump in her left breast. Arnette’s doctors moved quickly to schedule surgery within two weeks of her diagnosis. They told her to plan for a recovery time of at least a month. Because she is self-employed, Arnette does not qualify for short-term state disability. She was unprepared for both the loss of income plus the huge out-of-pocket costs to meet her deductible. Arnette initially reached out to BCEF before her surgery to ask for help with her medical deductible. BCEF immediately called a community partner who enrolled Arnette in a state-sponsored program which covers underinsured women for the duration of their most intensive breast cancer treatment. Next we connected her to a local food program so that she could have groceries delivered to her home while she recuperated. Finally, BCEF paid Arnette’s rent and essential utilities that month, providing a vital safety net for her and her children during her medical crisis.



Facing utility shut-off while in midst of treatment

Carolyn is in treatment for Stage 2 breast cancer. She lives with her adult daughter and shares household expenses. Prior to her breast cancer diagnosis, Carolyn was semi-retired but worked odd jobs to cover her family’s utilities. Her daughter worked full-time but reduced her work week in order to care for her mother during chemotherapy. Soon, Past Due utility bills started to pile up, placing additional stress on Carolyn in the midst of her treatment. During a chemotherapy infusion, Carolyn mentioned to the nurse that she had just received a 48-hour Shut-Off notice. The nurse immediately called BCEF. That afternoon, BCEF called in a pledge for the full amount due to avoid shutoff. BCEF’s partnership with several large utility companies allows us a special vendor payment option which can halt shut-off with a phone call. BCEF then paid utilities for the next three months to enable the family to focus on Carolyn’s treatment and recovery.




Lourdes is a young professional and single mother of four children. She is also enrolled in evening classes to secure an advanced degree. When she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer this year, she utilized the private disability plan which she had purchased through her employer. Even with a relatively generous health insurance plan and access to private disability, Lourdes struggled to cover household expenses during her absence from work. After her first breast cancer surgery, Lourdes’s oncologist determined that a second surgery would be required to ensure clear margins followed by an aggressive regimen of chemotherapy and radiation. She faced prolonged treatment and recovery. Her surgery co-pays were double what Lourdes had anticipated. She quickly realized that she could not cover both her medical expenses and her family’s rent after her second surgery. At a loss for resources, Lourdes called the American Cancer Society who referred her to BCEF. At 3:45pm on the last day of the month, Lourdes contacted BCEF; by 5pm that same day, BCEF had processed her application and issued rental payment for her family. BCEF then connected her with an oncology social worker at her medical facility (Lourdes had previously been unaware such a resource existed) and referred her to several partner agencies for additional support during recovery.




“BCEF has been there in my time of greatest need. I didn’t realize how much help was available to cancer patients. I am one of the fortunate ones to be a survivor with the support of a care group and Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. BCEF staff is so caring, that you would want to have them as a friend. Not only that, but they are understanding.  Being a part of the BCEF program is so very uplifting and helpful and they will pull you out of the rut that you are in despite the disease that you are battling. They helped me keep my head above water when I didn’t feel like I could do it alone. Through it all, I believe that we will find a cure one day for breast cancer for the future women. I now tell my friends to get their mammograms and take care of themselves. This is no joke and I want to thank everyone that has been by my side, thank you very much.”




“I remember when my care navigator recommended me so confidently to the services of BCEF. I’d hoped that I would receive the help the organization offers. When I met the staff at BCEF, what they do each day became a reality for me. I learned about how they put into action helping people like me fighting breast cancer. I remember how inviting and helpful everyone was. I felt confident and at ease in BCEF’s offices. I’d been so worried that I wouldn’t be able to make ends meet during treatment. BCEF provided the relief I needed to get me through. BCEF assistance made and makes a real difference in my recovery. It’s not only the material help, but also the ambiance and quality of attention that are so positive. Thank God for putting BCEF in my path.”




“I’d like to say ‘Thanks’ to everyone at BCEF for all of the support and help you have offered me and others. ‘Thank you from my whole heart.’  I am very grateful that you are here. BCEF gave me a chance to breathe. I was behind on my bills. The support BCEF provided allowed me to make ends meet and gave me peace of mind.  I was able to focus on my treatment and feel less stressed about my financial situation.  It was a blessing to have the help and support offered to me without asking for anything in return. Since finding out about BCEF, I have found a wealth of support and a wonderful group of people.  I have been invited to attend Beats for Boobs and other events. It has been a long journey, but one that has made me stronger.  Now I am ready to offer my support, help and guidance to others who are facing this terrible fight. “




“I thought I’d be able to pick up my life and get back to normal after chemo. Well, things don’t always work out as we wish. I can’t say that I’ve made peace with breast cancer. It’s still a very scary place to be. Not knowing what might come next makes it harder. Then I had an emergency tooth problem right before surgery. I thought it was something I’d have to ignore or figure out myself. BCEF stepped in and helped me immediately. They are so warm and considerate. I hope they know what it meant to have help in that moment. Many things seem less important right now. But kindness – that means everything. “


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“I can’t thank you enough for all your help and support in making a making bad situation tolerable.”


Diep, Santa Clara County


“Thank you for listening to me during my time of need. Odd gifts come from going through breast cancer and working with BCEF definitely counts as a gift.”


Teresa, San Mateo County