Diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2018, Rosemary Carrera faced the arduous cancer treatment process ahead with an 8-month-old in tow. Blessed with a strong community of family and friends, Rosemary was able to focus entirely on her doctors appointments, chemo, treatments and ultimate recovery. Angela Fout Nolle, a mutual patient Rosemary met in the waiting rooms, did not have the same circumstance. She had recently relocated, had a husband in a new job and knew no one in Miami. Angela was left to navigate the all-consuming process of cancer treatment while trying to care for her family, find transportation for her children, manage housekeeping and keep everyone fed. “We looked around in Miami to find resources for Angela and came up empty handed,” recalls Carrera.
305 Pink Pack
Towards the end of their cancer journeys, Angela and Rosemary along with a small group of cancer survivors, thrivers (those still in active treatment or who have metastatic disease) and caretakers came together to create the support system that Miami lacked. The vision was to make a place for women going through any kind of cancer to come for all their support needs. This includes an immediate support community, organization of that support, transport to and from appointments, child support, housekeeping, wigs and scarves, post-surgical care and mental health services. “Women are breadwinners, moms and wives, we don’t have time to get sick,” Rosemary says. “When you hear the C-word, the last thing you want to think about is how you’re going to get groceries, or who can take care of your child while you undergo lifesaving treatment.”
It Takes a Tribe
“People want to help and often don’t know how,” explains Rosemary. For someone who doesn’t have local support, or even those that do, 305 Pink Pack helps organize every patient’s personal pack. One of the biggest tools provided is a mobile app that helps them organize supporters through a calendar for things like doctor’s appointments, child transportation, grocery runs and more. They also pair patients up with someone who’s gone through the same cancer, or at the same local hospital to help with insider tips, as a voice of experience for first-time patients is vital. Rosemary herself personally reaches out to each patient on a bi-weekly basis with reminders and encouragement about appointments, physical therapy, oncology and mental health, all available in both English and Spanish. Many Volunteers are survivors and thrivers who themselves are still in treatment.
What’s in a name
After Rosemary’s diagnosis, her sister and self-appointed biggest cheerleader, Nathalie Vazquez, made t-shirts for the whole family branding them as Ro-Ro’s Rack Pack. Later when creating their organization, the same concept was applied for their Miami outreach, and 305 Pink Pack was born. Nathalie, like several others involved in the process, has gone on to create the organization today. She now serves as Vice President.
Strength in Numbers
Since they started in January, 305 Pink Pack has had 85 women enroll in the program. Each month, there are approximately 35 women in active treatment. Funding for the non-profit was originally expected through traditional fundraising methods. However, since COVID, they have pivoted their plans. To date, they have received grants from the Coral Gables Community Foundation, Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, Baptist Health Foundation, and even Walmart. Online fundraisers and friends on facebook are another excellent source of fundraising for the group. “Friends and families, in every way, are the ones who make the biggest difference,” says Rosemary.
To receive support or become involved, visit 305pinkpack.org or follow them @305pinkpack.