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A thank you note for From Our Hearts

May 9, 2018
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

After coming to Pine Island for decades, we moved here full time in 2000. I knew a woman on Pine Island who was going through breast cancer at the time, and another Pine Island woman was raising money to go on a 60-mile walk in Pennsylvania to bring awareness to breast cancer research and treatment. That woman thought, "Why am I raising money for another state, when we all have a friend right here on Pine Island who needs our help?"

That was the beginning of From Our Hearts. A musician and a small group of people held a benefit for the breast cancer islander and an organization was formed! Today, From Our Hearts Inc. is a 501C3 non-profit that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, with 100 percent of the net proceeds going to island residents only.

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They must qualify for grants from Partners for Breast Cancer and/or Lee Health. The island residents who receive our help are kept confidential. Unless someone comes back to us to let us know he or she was helped, we have no idea who they are.

When asked to become a board member, I agreed without hesitation. I personally knew the lady and her family helped in the beginning. She fought for several years, but eventually lost her courageous battle. Fast forward a few years, and there were two more islanders I met, both with breast cancer and both with small boys.

They came to us to say that they were recipients of From Our Hearts grants and wanted to give back to the community by speaking out for us. Unfortunately, each fought a long, hard battle, and those of us who remember their determination and strength continue to fight for others. Maybe some day there will be a cure.

From Our Hearts is so very dear to me. My grandmother survived after being diagnosed later in life, and I know so many others who have fought or are fighting now for every day of their lives. I am thankful for my own health and want to give of my time and efforts to help those on this island in need of the services From Our Hearts provides.

Recently, From Our Hearts received an unexpected gift - a glimpse of the gratitude in the hearts of those islanders who courageously fight breast cancer and have received help from us.

A few weeks ago, Tammy Zinn, Breast Health Navigator with Lee Health, sent us the following thank you note from a woman whose identity wasn't revealed to us. How wonderful to see that our efforts are helping our neighbors!

Then, two weeks ago, I received the following email from From Our Hearts President Barb Riordan:

"I was at the Beacon thrift shop today and had an incredible experience. I was talking to the cashier and somehow FOH came up. A woman shopping started talking to me and said she had lost her job in January. She had no insurance and was overdue for a mammogram. She was about our age. She had a history of issues so I told her about the bus and the cashier went and gave her a copy of the flyer for the Breast Cancer Caravan. I told her that if any issues were found, she'd be handed over to Lee Health and a breast cancer navigator would guide her. While I was talking to her, another woman came up to me with tears in her eyes and said we (FOH) saved her life. Turns out she is the one who wrote the thank you letter we got from Tammy Zinn. She spoke so highly of Tammy, saying she was incredible. She wants to get involved with FOH, is a full-time resident. Lots of tears were shed. The first woman heard it all and said she would either call or just show up for the caravan. I told her what she needed to bring with her, and I really pushed her to just show up and we would guide her."

This note reminds me exactly why I continue to be so passionate about what we do. The generosity of the people on this island is immeasurable. Without your support, we would not be able to continue our mission. I think back to 2000 when I met the lady with breast cancer here on the island. What a lady she was! Each and every person on this island deserves medical diagnostics and/or treatment whether or not they have insurance. I am proud to be a small part of an organization that can provide these services and possibly save a life.

From Our Hearts is a small group that wholeheartedly welcomes new members! Visit to learn more about how you can get involved, self exams, upcoming events and more. Together we can make a difference

Terri James

St. James City



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