An Interview with Dr. Vera Packard, CEO of HERS
Q: What is HERS Breast Cancer Foundation about and what do you all do?
Dr. Packard: HERS Breast Cancer Foundation supports all women healing from breast cancer by providing post-surgical products and services, regardless of financial status. We provide appropriate products (bras, prosthesis, lymphedema garments, and wigs) in a safe, comfortable, and understanding environment. As one of our clients said: “The doctors saved my life, HERS Breast Cancer Foundation allowed me to live my life feeling good about myself.” We are a Durable Medical Equipment (DME) facility accredited by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics, Inc. Our Breast Care Specialists go through extensive training of a total of 500 hours before achieving their credential.
Q: What do you love most about HERS Breast Cancer Foundation and the work you all do?
Dr. Packard: I love that we are here for a survivor in the beginning of her journey and continue to support her every year even after the treatments are done and gone. The bras, prosthesis, lymphedema garments, and wigs are just small tools that allow us do what we do best, which is to be good listeners and provide support to every client that walks in our program stores. This is why we like to call our program stores “a soft place to fall”. We help anyone. If they have insurance coverage for the products we will take care of all the billing process for them, and if they don’t have insurance they can receive the same products at NO COST.
Q: How has HERS Breast Cancer Foundation made a difference and what impact do you still wish to see HERS Breast Cancer Foundation make?
Dr. Packard: Our organization has been in existence since 1998. Until 2014 we served clients at our Program Store in Fremont located at Washington Hospital. Since I joined the organization in September of 2008, we have worked on our dream to be in other medical facilities so we can help more breast cancer survivors. In 2011 the board created a Strategic Plan with the goal of being in 2 other medical facilities by 2016. In February of 2014 we were very happy to open the doors of our program store at the Stanford Cancer Center and in April of 2015 we expanded our services to Stanford Health Care – ValleyCare. We have over 1,700 client visits a year, and being in these Stanford facilities will allow us to reach more clients with our products and services.
Q: What is so special about HERS Breast Cancer Foundation and how can people make a difference?
Dr. Packard: We are the only non-profit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area to provide these garments and services to ALL women, regardless of their ability to pay. There are retail facilities in the area, but they only assist the insured population. WE ARE ONE OF A KIND. Our experience with more than 8,000 clients over 18 years and the background of the staff has allowed us to have a complete understanding of the breast cancer issues. HERS stands for Hope, Empowerment, Renewal, and Support. We are here to provide HOPE to all breast cancer survivors so that they never have to feel embarrassed of their body. We EMPOWER survivors so they feel proud of their “new normal” after the devastating diagnosis of breast cancer. We help in the RENEWAL of their self-image, and SUPPORT them so they can have confidence and thrive.