Links for Life

Statistics show that within the U.S., 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Think about it. Take it in, roll it around and name eight women, regardless of age that you know. Visualize their faces, remember the sound of their laughter, the way they brush their hair out of their face. Think about the shape their smiles take and the color of their eyes. Remember why you know them, why you love them and especially why you could not live without them.

Now, dig a little deeper. Think about your mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers, mentors, sisters and friends because the most significant risk factors for breast cancer are being female and aging. About 95 percent of all breast cancers in the U.S. occur in women 40 and older. The statistics don’t get better, they get harder to bare. For example, each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die. To magnify the problem even more, one woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes in the United States. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. That’s right, men are affected by breast cancer too. Cancer doesn’t discriminate.

Twenty-five years. It’s a long time if you think about it. A quarter of a century or a drop in the bucket, depending on who you ask. For Links for Life it’s a monumental milestone of dedicated care and assistance to Kern County community members. Like most service based nonprofits in our community, Links for Life sparked from the need of the people. Originally named Business & Charity Golf Links then Link to Life, our modern-day Links for Life was started in 1992 by Carol Barraza and Sharyn Woods to promote breast cancer awareness and provide services for women coping with breast cancer, including a wig boutique.

“I found Links for Life to be a safe and caring environment,” says Carrie Johnson a two-year survivor and Links client. “They first fitted me for a wig and beautiful head coverings, then they gave me the best gift of all, great friendship and a sisterhood that has continued to enrich my life.”

The outreach service based organization had a set focus and a powerful volunteer base to propel its mission. Dedicated to providing a network for women, and eventually men, affected with breast cancer, Links, strategically partnered with health care providers and fully emphasize the importance that women in Kern County needed to be aware of their breast health.

“Some say cancer is a club that you don’t want to be in but I feel truly lucky to be part of Links,” says one-year survivor, Codie Larsen. “If it wasn’t for Links for Life I wouldn't be as proud to be in this cancer club. These women are truly inspirational.”

Comprised of staff and volunteer based helpers, Links for Life is a dynamic force. Through community grants and donations, Links for Life is able to provide a Comprehensive Breast Health Program which funds Mammograms, Ultrasounds and Needle Biopsies for those under 40 years of age who are uninsured or under insured and live in Kern County. The reach of Links for Life expands to the local healthcare community and has established strong connections with all doctors and clinics in Kern County.

We are in this together so proudly wear pink, think pink and help Links for Life service our community for many more years to come.

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