Nonprofit Spotlight: Pretty In Pink Foundation

Pretty In Pink Executive Director Becky Horn, left, with founder Dr. Lisa Tolnitch

Breast cancer patients who are eligible to receive help from the Pretty In Pink Foundation are not called clients, or recipients — at Pretty In Pink, they are called champions.

“These are women that are marching through a very difficult time, and it’s our job to honor them by giving them a label that they deserve,” said Becky Horn, Pretty In Pink’s executive director and breast cancer survivor.

Founded in 2006 by Dr. Lisa Tolnitch, the world-class breast cancer surgeon who treated Horn back in the ’90s, Pretty In Pink has funded medical treatment for underinsured and uninsured women with breast cancer in 97 of the state’s 100 counties.

Pretty In Pink volunteers help spread awareness at a Holly Springs Salamanders game.

“I had a very good corporate career and great insurance, and it was still stressful,” said Horn. “I can’t imagine receiving the diagnosis and not having the money for treatment.”

“Half of the women we serve have kids at home, and the vast majority of them have jobs. These are women who wake up every day and go to their jobs and take care of business, but they are not financially prepared for this crisis. They range in age from 25 to 85. They’re fighters, and it’s extremely important that we help them.”

Financial assistance can cover everything from copays and health insurance deductibles/premiums to surgery expenses, chemotherapy administration, radiation therapy, and other expenses.

“Pretty In Pink is a necessity in our community because we are the only organization in NC whose primary mission is to pay for the medical treatment for breast cancer,” said Anna Snyder, patient services supervisor. “We are many patients’ last resort to be able to receive the necessary, life-saving treatments needed to stop the spread of cancer and to live longer. With the ability to pay for the needed treatments and care, our champions can return to their daily routines, their families, and their jobs.”

Pretty In Pink works closely with social workers, nurse navigators, and financial counselors across the state to make sure patients are aware of them and are able to access financial assistance. Champions are typically referred by the health care facility in which they are receiving treatment, but if women are looking for help on their own, Pretty In Pink’s website has a list of eligibility requirements as well as an online application to receive assistance. Applications go through the medical advisory committee (the doctors on the board), and eligible applicants must be NC residents, US citizens, have an income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level, and be in active treatment for breast cancer.

“They review the pathology report and ensure that this person qualifies for service, and then we ask the medical system to start sending us the bills,” said Horn. “We take the patient out of the middle of the bill process because these women are in a fight for their lives. There’s so much on their mind, and they need to focus on their health journey. We take all of that off of their shoulders and we work directly with the physicians so that we can be sure that these women are getting the treatment that they need for survival.”

In addition to financially easing the burden of a breast cancer diagnosis, Pretty In Pink also has a peripheral program called Beyond the Ribbon, which offers support in the form of special care bags, pre- and post-surgery bras, breast prostheses, wigs, caps, throws, and other comfort items. Pretty In Pink partners with Survivor Friendly to help distribute donated items to any woman who is battling breast cancer (not just eligible champions).

“Our organization is unique in that we are local and personal,” said Horn. “This isn’t about research — it doesn’t go into some big pot somewhere and you wonder what happened to your money. It’s going to a woman with a face, a name, a street address in NC. It’s personal and it’s very impactful. It makes a difference whether she gets life-saving medical treatment or not. That’s the best part of the job, knowing that you’re playing a role in giving someone a chance of survival that they didn’t have.”

Pretty In Pink champion Priscilla Hicks was diagnosed with cancer on Good Friday in 2020 — right in the midst of Covid.

“I was a single mom of a 3-year-old boy, I was a teacher, and we were in the middle of a nationwide lockdown,” said Hicks. “I thought, ‘How can this be happening to me?’”

Hicks received payment for medical treatment from Pretty In Pink for port placement and chemotherapy related charges and another organization covered the cost of “cold capping,” a drug-free way of reducing hair loss after chemotherapy by cooling the scalp during treatment.

“I could walk into a grocery store or go out on date night with my now-husband and not feel like I was a cancer patient. No one stared at me, and my medical condition was not on display for all to see. Normalcy helped me fight and kept me strong for my son.”

Pretty In Pink is made possible by financial commitments through sponsorships, fundraising, donations, and pledge drives. Their largest fundraising event of the year — the Pink Pumps & Bow Ties Gala — is scheduled for Oct. 22.

“Every year we have our annual gala. It’s a signature event and a big portion of our income,” said Horn. “We always need volunteers for that. We could also use volunteers to help us with care packages by finding items, donating them, helping us load the tote bags, and getting them to the post office.”

In addition to encouraging everyone to donate and volunteer, Horn urges women all across NC to perform self-examinations and schedule their annual breast screenings.

“It’s important to say that 85% of the people we serve don’t have any family history. Most of the people we serve are stunned that it’s happened to them. They start their family history,” said Horn. “One in eight women will get breast cancer. In NC, a woman has a 94% chance of survival with early detection and treatment. Go get your mammogram and give yourself that 94% chance.”

Interested volunteers or donors can visit for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *