It all started when co-founder Erika Rich (pictured), 27, was diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer in February 2019 at the age of 25. After ten rounds of IV chemo treatment, 18 rounds of targeted and complete brain radiation, plus over 20 rounds of continued gene-targeted therapy, she turned her sights outward. Her sister and co-founder, Jessica Sinclair, had the idea for the foundation after Erika’s initial diagnosis. For Jessica’s Capstone project for her master’s degree, she created Bloom Foundation Gives, a nonprofit that would help educate others about breast cancer and emphasize that the disease doesn’t discriminate based on age or how healthy you think are. Erika also wanted to shed light on how a Stage 4 diagnosis is not a death sentence but a new beginning to start living. Thanks to others’ generosity, Erika has been able to focus on healing and making cancer fun, something she hopes to help other breast cancer patients start saying.
After Erika’s brain radiation in December and receiving a generous Christmas gift from her boss, Erika took the steps to bring the foundation to life. Thanks to the extra energy from her steroid post-brain radiation and her boss’s contribution, she was able to complete all the necessary paperwork. Next, Erika appointed a group of talented individuals to be her board of directors, her perfectly skilled girlfriends from Wittenberg University and Delta Gamma, and Greg, also a Witt Grad to handle the finances and provide laughs. Erika managed to do this all between Dec 17, 2019, and Jan 1, 2020, to kickstart the year with the foundation’s first initial Love Over Fear Fundraiser where Bloom Foundation Gives was born. They were able to raise enough money to provide their first Yoga Teacher Training Scholarship, Cancer Care Package, and afford additional startup costs. The Foundation has since launched a merchandise line, held yoga fundraisers, donated eight other cancer care bags, raised money for four shopping sprees, and much more.
Erika also hopes to use Bloom to shine a light on the mental health and wellness side of a cancer diagnosis. In 2019 1.8 million people were diagnosed with cancer, breast cancer making up 15%. Of that 1.8 million, 15-25% receive a diagnosis of depression, that’s 450,000 people. Erika found herself amongst that number resulting in paused treatment, talking with a therapist for the first time, and opening up to her family and friends about her struggles with depression and survivors’ guilt.
Also, active by nature, Erika hopes to shed light on the benefits of exercise. Something as simple as a 15-minute walk, yoga session, or meditation a day and proper nutrition can make a substantial positive impact on overall mental health and wellness. “Bloom Foundation Gives’ goal is to help others with these adversities. As a Foundation, we value overall wellness, and we believe that means healing on the inside and out,” said Erika.
Face2Face Healing has partnered with Bloom Foundation to support their patients with case management and individual counseling.
Find more information about this organization at www.bloomfoundation.gives