GOLDEN, Colo. — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation estimates one in eight women in America will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives.
Barrie Hufford's mother, Ann Williams, passed away from breast cancer in 2011. It was the second time her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“She beat it the first time. And then the second time, she came out to visit us in May for my son's birthday and told us the news that it had come back. And it was extremely aggressive, and she was gone within four months," Hufford explained. “Once your mother dies of breast cancer, you try and take the initiative and get mammograms. And I would always have something go off with my mammogram. So, it was always a little scare.”
Hufford learned she had a genetic mutation that indicated a risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.
"That just sealed the deal to have a preventative double mastectomy and a hysterectomy, and that was 2021 when I had that done," Hufford said. “It definitely gave me some peace of mind to be in control. My husband and I, we knew that it was a big decision, but I wasn't going to have it any other way.”
Right before the preventative double mastectomy, Hufford found out about a specialized sweatshirt that has pockets on the inside, meant for the drainage tubes that follow the surgery. She rushed to order the sweatshirt so she could have it after the surgery.
“The thing that handles the drains are just the inside pockets," Hufford said. “To have something attached to you that could possibly tug and catch, and you don't want it to, because not just the fact that it hurts, but you know, you can't have anything rip, it's very sensitive. You need to take care of it.”
Hufford started a charity called Hope Chest, which aims to provide people recovering from a mastectomy with a specialized sweatshirt without charging them.
“When you get told the news that you have breast cancer, the last thing you want to do is go shopping," Hufford said. "What we do is we provide these sweatshirts to the hospitals, or I mail them directly to these women all across the nation. And they just get them before their surgery so that they can have this apparel to be able to live their lives. Go outside, you know, after the surgery and not have these drains tugging, getting tangled, what have you.”
Hope Chest has sent the sweatshirts to 24 states and two other countries so far.
“I think it's so successful, because it's so simple," Hufford said. “This is true to Ann Williams. These are random acts of kindness. That's all it is... I think the message of these sweatshirts is that somebody cared.”
Hufford believes her mother sent her the idea for the charity, which is having their big fundraiser Saturday.
The second annual gala for Hope Chest is Saturday at Applewood Golf Course in Golden. Tickets are still available.
Donations can also be made at any time to Hope Chest.