Cancer care could be more holistic for the patient.
In fighting her own battle with breast cancer, Michelle Hauser-Wallace came to this realization and is working to do something about it, having established the non-profit Beyond Pink Foundation in February.
“We’re small, but mighty,” said Hauser-Wallace, a DeForest resident for 20 years.
On Oct. 23, the organization held its first event, Gourds ‘N Roses, at North and South Seafood & Smokehouse in DeForest.
Hauser-Wallace said they were happy with the turnout. More people showed up than the total that was registered. It was a chance for the public to meet the organization’s board, its leadership and its volunteers.
Beyond Pink is developing programs to work with patient navigators at cancer care centers, such as the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, to fill in some of the bigger gaps regarding breast cancer patient needs.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in our first year,” said Hauser-Wallace.
Hauser-Wallace’s background is in human resources – training and development, process improvement and leadership coaching. She said she hung up her corporate hat a few years ago when she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, also known as stage IV breast cancer.
Beyond Pink Foundation serves as a consultant to cancer centers by engaging them in conversations pertaining to patient needs and then designing programs that address the needs and stand in the gap for breast cancer fighters.
One such program is called “Beyond the Diagnosis: Warriors Supporting Warriors.” Hauser-Wallace said the organization is talking with other cancer centers in state and outside of Wisconsin about developing similar programming that takes a more patient-centric approach. She’s hoping for an integrative approach in meeting with different care providers.
“We want to work collaboratively with the whole team to come up with a plan for the patient,” said Hauser-Wallace.
Hauser-Wallace said some cancer centers are already moving in this direction. After officially forming in February, the Beyond Pink Foundation received its 503 C3 status as a non-profit from the Internal Revenue Service in March. Made up completely of volunteers, Beyond Pink aims to provide support training programs for cancer centers and assistance and advocacy for services that most insurance does not cover, such as cold caps.
Next, a committee was established with a core group of students from DeForest High School in conjunction with the National Honor Society. It also provides students with leadership volunteer hours they can cite for college preparation and is geared toward breast cancer science career exploration. Hauser-Wallace anticipates holding sort of a “day in the life of” event in 2020 where students can meet with a scientist, clinician or oncologist involved in fighting breast cancer to talk about their work and tour a breast cancer lab.
Currently, only students from DeForest Area High School are involved. Hauser-Wallace is hoping to get young adults from surrounding communities to be a part of their organization.
Originally from Oklahoma and Texas, Hauser-Wallace is a graduate of the University of North Texas. She moved to the area with her husband, Russell Wallace, years ago. They have three boys: Kennedy, Carson and Landon. And they have a chocolate lab named Maverick.
At the age of 43, Hauser-Wallace was diagnosed with early stage 2 breast cancer in 2015.
Following several months of chemotherapy and surgery, she was given a clean bill of health. However, in 2016, she learned she had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Such diagnoses are accompanied by a median life expectancy of three years and ongoing treatment for the remainder of the patient’s existence. Still, Hauser-Wallace said she counts her blessings every day.
Ever since then, she’s felt a calling to serve the breast cancer community and help those stricken with the disease with the challenges they encounter. As part of her advocacy for breast cancer patients, Hauser-Wallace has served as an advocate at the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Leadership Summit, a policy committee member for the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition and as a “Hear My Voice” volunteer with Living Beyond Breast Cancer. As for the Beyond Pink Foundation, Hauser-Wallace envisions expanded programming with a progressive five-year plan. Collaborating with other similar-minded organizations, such as Theresa’s Research Foundation, is also part of the plan. Bringing more breast cancer events to the Madison area is another priority.
In fact, Beyond Pink is partnering with Susan G. Komen Wisconsin and Breast Cancer Recovery, out of Fitchburg, to host the first Madison Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference Nov. 12 at the Cherokee Country Club. Visit Beyond Pink’s Facebook page for more information. Providing ongoing education to patients and support for breast cancer science is a big part of Beyond Pink’s continuing mission.
continue to grow these collaborations, and we’re growing fast,” said Hauser-Wallace. “We want to impact patients on multiple levels and to have more brilliant minds enter the breast cancer science field.”