Sometimes you find the strongest support in people whom you never would have thought you’d ever meet. That’s part of the magic behind Links for Life’s local services. The organization delicately knits a beautiful tapestry of support services for breast cancer survivors from all walks of life. The common thread – hope and a simple-but-true message of we are in this together.
Since Links for Life started its support programs in 1992 with only 10 women, its services have grown tremendously to reach women and men fighting breast cancer across the county.
And the support doesn’t stop with the survivor; the organization also takes in the family and loved ones of those walking toward better health.
Bob Meadows became closely involved with Links for Life as his wife, Vicki, was tasked with battling breast cancer. That was six years ago.
But for Bob and Vicki, their connection to the organization continues to stay strong.
“Vicki’s first call when she got the diagnosis was to our friend Rosie Azevedo, also a survivor, to ask for the date of the next survivors meeting. I don’t know where she would be without Links, without her sisters who are all part of the club nobody ever wanted to join but are now forever grateful they did,” Bob said. “The support they give each other is so important and hard to measure. Many of these ladies would never have met if not for having breast cancer – and finding Links for Life.”
In April 2018, Bob gave a keynote address at Links for Life’s annual gala in honor of Vicki, their faith and Links.
“Vicki and I will be forever blessed by the people and services Links for Life has brought to our life,” he said.
Shortly after, Bob helped the organization implement a new service – a men’s “nonsupport group” support group. “A lot of guys expressed the same feelings I had. It is a helpless feeling for us men, who by nature are drawn to fixing things,” he said.
Strong Links is more of a hangout for the guys, a chance to meet new people dealing with similar situations and talk as much or as little as they would like.
Gabriela Vasquez, a cancer survivor, also felt inspired to stay linked to the organization, help it grow and assist wherever her help may be needed. Now as a member of the board of directors, she says it’s a privilege to be able to support the organization that selflessly helped her.
“Links for Life provided a great deal of support to me through one of the most difficult times of my life,” she said.
Vasquez has helped the organization offer new services as the facilitator for the organization’s young survivors support group and her volunteer work with special events.
There’s a great deal of spirit put into these groups. It’s no wonder Stana Bright, a three-time breast cancer survivor, board member and trusted volunteer continues to be a beacon of light for the organization.
“It has been wonderful and fulfilling to watch the organization grow over the years and to see the difference we are making in the lives of Kern County women and men and their families,” she says. “My heart and passion is with the survivors in serving as the facilitator of the Links for Life support group. We are here to help everyone along their breast cancer journey.”