The moment someone hears, “You have breast cancer,” her whole life changes. For Julie Switzer of San Clemente, it was shocking because she received a second diagnosis at the same time, lymphocytic lymphoma, and it was in the middle of the pandemic in 2020.
“’What do I now?’ was my first thought,” said Switzer. Being a patient was foreign—she was used to caring for others. For 16 years, Switzer has been a labor and delivery nurse and lactation consultant at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center, the same place she received her diagnosis.
Julie’s touching and unique story was shared recently at the annual member luncheon of Beauty In Grace, Saddleback Medical Center Foundation’s women’s giving circle. The event featured about 70 guests and was held March 15 at Montage Laguna Beach.
Each year, Beauty In Grace pools its membership gifts of $1,000 or more to make a significant donation to women’s health services at Saddleback Medical Center. This year, the group consisted of 88 members, the most of any previous year, and raised more than $100,000 to benefit the Breast Cancer Navigation program. Over the past six years, Beauty In Grace has raised more than $450,000 for women’s health services at the hospital.
Breast cancer patient navigation is provided free of charge to Saddleback Medical Center patients and is not reimbursed by insurance.
“Beauty In Grace members’ generous contributions make it possible for all patients to receive this extra level of care without cost to them,” said Marcia Manker, CEO, MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center.
For Switzer, that extra level of care came from her Breast Care Navigator Jackie Hower. Hower provides one-on-one guidance to hundreds of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year at the MemorialCare Breast Center at Saddleback Medical Center. Hower helps patients understand their diagnosis, reviews treatment options, makes appointments, and essentially holds their hand through every step of their journey.
For Beauty In Grace Chair Cathy Han, M.D. of Newport Beach, seeing the direct impact on patients makes her work with this group meaningful and special.
“When I hear stories like Julie’s and how important our breast care navigator Jackie was to her, I’m so proud that our members supported this program,” said Han.
“I don’t know what I would have done without Jackie,” said Switzer. “She is critical for patients like me who are just diagnosed.”
Her invaluable role in helping breast cancer patients is the reason 2022 Beauty In Grace membership gifts are benefiting the Breast Cancer Navigation Program at Saddleback Medical Center. The volume of patients continues to grow each year, and the funds will help the Breast Center’s breast care navigators serve all who need them.
Last year, Beauty In Grace gifts benefited the renovation of one of the cardiac catheterization labs. In previous years, the group has purchased bilirubin screening units and a cardiac monitor/defibrillator for the Labor, Delivery, Recovery & Postpartum department, cryoablation and MRI equipment for the Breast Center, and video streaming equipment for the NICU so parents can watch their baby from a smartphone.
“We love seeing this group of remarkable women grow because our impact gets stronger each year,” said Newport Beach resident Christy Ward, president, MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center Foundation. “Our members are physicians, executives, and community philanthropists who believe in the power of women giving together.”
To learn more about Beauty In Grace, visit www.memorialcare.org/BeautyInGrace.