At first, Tami Fant made excuses when her manager invited her to participate in national breast cancer fundraisers such as the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk For The Cure and the Avon Walk.
“It never seemed like there was enough time, and it really wasn’t my passion.”
That changed eight years ago when cancer hit home in Fant’s own family.
“When I lost my dad to lung cancer, then all of a sudden it became a passion. Now cancer was very close and personal to me. ... Then that same summer, I had two friends get diagnosed with breast cancer.”
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Fant started walking alongside these women and learning what happens to their lives when they go through treatment.
Bringing it home
Over the next several years, Fant and her friends — many who work at the Alaska Airlines office in Boise — raised money for national breast cancer organizations and made a lot of memories with their shared camaraderie by participating in breast-cancer walks throughout the country.
But one hitch got the group interested in trying something different.
“We asked ourselves, ‘Why are we giving our money to cities like Seattle or San Diego that are hosting these three-day walks, and giving this money to national organizations when we could do something right here?’ We have all of these great local people who are supporting us by sponsoring us in these walks, but we aren’t really benefiting our local community,” Karen Thompson says. “We figured that since we had great success raising money for these events in other cities, if we told people we were raising funds to help people in the Boise area, we would see an even greater buy-in.”
In 2014, the women were motivated to start their own 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, calling themselves Bustin’ Out Of Boise (BOOB), for the purpose of raising funds for breast cancer and distributing them locally.
A year later, they formulated a strategy that refocused and refined their efforts. Many women fighting cancer experience gaps in their home life, especially during the time they are in treatment. Now, the group is dedicated to these women by helping ease the burden of the daily tasks so that the women can focus on their health and healing.
“We keep it simple by focusing on these three specific needs — meals, cleaning and transportation. It is kind of like In-N-Out Burger. They may have a limited menu, but what they do serve is really good,” Thompson says.
The group sets aside $7,500 for each woman it is helping and distributes the money to them over a six-month period by helping pay for these services provided by professionals. The recipient can then order the meals she thinks her family would enjoy, schedule the type of care or cleaning that will be appropriate for her household and utilize the transportation assistance when other rides aren’t available to her.
Walking alongside local women
Stephanie Sena is raising her two young sons with her high school sweetheart and husband, Cisco. She is battling metastatic breast cancer and was the first woman that Bustin’ Out of Boise came alongside.
“When you are really tired from the cancer and treatments, the last thing you want to do is fix dinner and serve it to your family, but a lot of people like me are old-fashioned and feel that the woman of the house should be responsible for the meals. BOOB gave me $500 a month of gift cards to Schwan’s (grocery delivery service) for dinners. They have great food, and they were easy for me to fix.”
“Then Brightstar Care would come out two times a week. I could use them as a babysitter, or I could use them to clean my house. They would even take me on my errands and help me at the grocery store if I needed to go. I fell in love with one of the girls who was helping me and my boys did, too. She became a big part of our lives. She would help them with their homework and daily chores and just keep them on track and take care of them because I was really down at that time.”
Sena says this assistance meant so much to her, even though she has a lot of friends and family near her in Nampa.
“You don’t want to have to keep asking the same people for help, being a burden to them when you are sick,” Sena says. “But now the help was provided and paid for. It was awesome.”
Randi Rovetto lives on a 1-acre lot in Middleton with her son Jay and is another metastatic breast cancer patient who is being helped by the women.
“When they came out to my home to meet me, there were women from all different walks of life — fabulous women that are supporting people with cancer,” Rovetto says.
“The week I have chemo I’m not able to eat very much, and I certainly can’t stand up to fix dinner but I have a diabetic teenager living with me who needs to eat regularly,” she says.
The group also provided her with Schwan’s cards. “This has been a lifesaver, especially for the weeks that I have chemo. I call that week my blackout week,” Rovetto says.
“They also provide drivers for me, which I need, to get back and forth to treatments. The weeks that I have chemo, I have to go back in six different times for two hours of hydration. I’m too sick those weeks to drive myself.
“They also set up home health care and pay for 25 hours a month. ... I am so thankful!”
While two of the three women that Bustin’ Out Of Boise has partnered with have battled breast cancer, the third had stomach cancer.
While the group primarily participated in breast cancer events at first, “When we decided to go out on our own and be a nonprofit, we opened it up to women who were dealing with any type of cancer,” Thompson says.
“We would love to be walking alongside 20 women a year if not more, but right now funding keeps us from expanding as much as we would like,” Fant says. “We have a working system that is very successful; now we just need more funding.”
“We are always looking for new friends and donors who want to help. We are applying for grants, but we also hope to partner with organizations and businesses that can help us raise the funds to meet our goal of helping as many women as possible. We think there will be many local groups that will see what we are doing and decide to sponsor a woman, or two, or more through partnering with us.”
This is the fourth article in a five-part series about local organizations that formed to help patients and families cope with cancer diagnoses. Look for part five next Sunday in Explore. Chad Estes is a Boise photographer and writer who is an active cancer advocate. His project, “The Reveal Mission,” showcases stories of breast cancer survivors and fighters.
How to help Bustin’ Out Of Boise
Annual barbecue and more
Bustin’ Out Of Boise has a yearly, summer barbecue event with a raffle and silent auction to help raise funds. They also host other fundraising events and hope to start an annual walk from the Bardenay restaurant in Eagle to the Bardenay restaurant in Boise at some point.