About Us

History

Bosom Buddies of Arizona was founded in 1982 by five women in the advertising and communications industry in Phoenix. Our founder, Dee Courtwright-Smoot, promised if she lived through her battle with breast cancer she would do “something” to help other men and women with the same diagnosis. At the time there was very little information available on breast cancer and no one spoke openly about it.

The original members agreed that one way to help was to provide a telephone information line. Using their own home phones and a passion to help others, a new volunteer organization for men and women with breast cancer was born. The ladies took the calls themselves until a newspaper article appeared about Bosom Buddies and the number of calls increased. At that time, Bosom Buddies of Arizona partnered with an answering service that forwarded calls to volunteers who were trained breast cancer survivors.

The next project was to provide meeting places where people dealing with a new breast cancer diagnosis could speak to those who walked that path before them. Soon monthly meetings began and today there are several support groups serving the Valley of the Sun. The sessions include both educational programs with breast cancer professionals and discussion among the group members.

Bosom Buddies of Arizona's leadership recognized the importance of public advocacy to address challenging issues such as research funding levels and access to care. Our organization became a member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, a coalition of hundreds of breast cancer organizations who lobby Congress and other decision makers for public policies that impact breast cancer research, diagnosis and treatment. Bosom Buddies of Arizona is now a board member of NBCC. Our volunteers participate in advocacy efforts on the state and national level.

The mission of Bosom Buddies of Arizona is to increase awareness of breast cancer by prevention, early detection and to provide support to men and women diagnosed with breast cancer, and their families.  We will do this through the sharing of common experiences and knowledge through personal contacts, the hotline, support groups, social media, and educational materials.

Erma Shaw - Executive Director


Erma ShawErma Shaw directs the day-to day operation of Bosom Buddies of Arizona.  She comes with leadership, coaching, and relationship management experience as a leader in the profit and non-profit sector.  Erma held a positon as an Institute for Healing Racism Facilitator for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and worked as Adjunct Faculty for her alma maters.  She volunteered for nearly ten years with United Way of Kent County-Tax Credit Coalition.  She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Business Administration.  She earned her MBA from the University of Phoenix, Grandville, MI campus. Erma and her spouse recently relocated to Arizona from Michigan.  
She is enthusiastic, mission-minded, and driven to promote Bosom Buddies of Arizona and its services, resources and material to those in the community that could benefit from what it has to offer.  
 

Jacolyn McLaughlin - President

Jackie has served on the Board for the past few years, and she is a Facilitator at the Southwest Valley and the Banner Boswell-Valley of the Sun support groups. Jackie is one of a growing number of breast cancer survivors who is grateful to Bosom Buddies for making a positive difference in her life. She recently retired from her job of 10 1/2 years as a small business manager here in Phoenix and looked forward to contributing to our cancer community once again.

Jackie has volunteered most of her adult life starting with the Junior Women's club in the Chicago area in 1970.  The majority of her volunteer years were working with patients and their families in the oncology department at a hospital/medical center, in Southern California, where she also attended once a month in-service classes. Jackie’s volunteer service continued with the City of Goodyear when they moved to Arizona eleven years ago. 

Jackie is honored to lead this organization as the President of the Board of Directors of Bosom Buddies of Arizona where she knows she will be able to contribute to this most important educational service and emotional support to our breast cancer community.

Jeanne Davis RN, MHSA - Vice President of Operations

Jeanne Davis RN, MHSA, board member and past treasurer was recruited by Bosom Buddies of Arizona to implement QuickBooks accounting.  An avid believer in the need for patient education and support groups to help individuals navigate through our ever increasingly complex medical system, she has remained on the board as a liaison with the medical community. She is excited about Bosom Buddies of Arizona's expanding role in improving education and support for survivors. Jeanne is a graduate of Immanuel School of Nursing, Omaha, Nebraska. and earned a BA from Stephens College and a MHSA from Arizona State University. Currently Jeanne is CEO of  PracticeSolutions, a medical practice consulting firm.  

Volunteer activities and memberships include past president and officer of Maricopa County Medical Alliance, Officer Arizona State Medical Alliance, the medical society of US and Mexico, America Cancer Society Reach to Recovery Program and volunteer Triage Nurse with the Mission of Mercy clinic.

 

Candyce Ryan - Secretary

Due to her affiliation with the American Business Women’s Association, a co-member who was also on the board of Bosom Buddies of Arizona invited Candace to attend one of their meetings. Since that meeting in 2004, she has been on the board and has served as Secretary for the past several years.Candace became a Certified Hospice Volunteer and to enhance that position, she attended the first Dignity Therapy Workshop to be held in the United States.

She is the co-author of the book “Dream Circles” (how to make your dreams come true through the power of sharing) and has facilitated the DreamBuilder Workshop “Celebrate Your Passion”.Candace has many passions in life, but of primary interest to her is helping others become the best they can be personally and professionally.

She is married, resides in Peoria and has been a business owner for the past 24 years.

Barbara Allen - Director

I am a breast cancer survivor who comes to Bosom Buddies with strong human relationship skills.  I graduated from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and a Master's Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.  I worked in numerous mental health agencies and in a hospital setting treating substance abuse patients.

Currently I teach Chi Gong, which is a specialized exercise program for personal healing. Being associated with Bosom Buddies is gratifying to me as I am able to continue to provide emotional support sharing community resources with the cancer community in Phoenix and the surrounding areas.

Latarsha Bracy - Director

Latarsha joined Bosom Buddies of Arizona in April 2015. She was born in Jackson, MS and currently reside in Phoenix, AZ. Latarsha has been employed with USAA as an Insurance Agent for over 12 years and is involved with her church and various community events.  In October of 2009 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and understands the physical, mental, and emotional realm that breast cancer can cause. She feels honored to be able to share her experience and help others. Latarsha's commitment to Bosom Buddies of AZ can be summed up in her own words, "I am dedicated to the success of Bosom Buddies of Arizona and truly have a special place in my heart for the many families that we may assist."

Barbara Goldstein - Director

Barbara Goldstein

Barbara attended Arizona State University where she obtained Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees in Education. She is the owner of Barbara's Mastectomy Boutique in Phoenix. Barbara has two sons and six lovely grandchildren.

Barbara has been helping Bosom Buddies of Arizona spread its mission since 1987.

Fran Weisz - Director

I was diagnosed with Labular Carcinoma Breast Cancer in 1987 and had a bilateral mastectomy with no lymph involvement.  Reconstruction followed a few months later.  No futher treatment was needed. I am a survivor since 1987.

I grew up in Phoenix, attending Obsorn School and Central High and obtained my teaching degree from NAU. After graduation, I taught kindergarten in Las Vegas, Nevada for several years. Then I was hired to teach with the Department of Defense  Overseas Schools.  I taught in Japan for two years, then transferred to Germany where I taught kindergarten for eight years.  Thus, I had many opportunties to travel and to learn about other cultures. I returned to Phoenix where I taught in Fountain Hills.  

After 20 years of teaching, I decided to retire, but continued to substitute for another ten years.  This gave me the freedom to travel and to do volunteer work with my husband, Duane who I met in 1987 after my cancer.  We were married in 1991.  We like to travel, bike ride, hike and swim.  Our travels have taken us to many places.  We were involved with a local organization, Pets on Wheels for eight years with our Springer Spaniel Cody.  We regularly went with Cody to a Scottsdale nursing home to visit the residents.

I have been a member of Bosom Buddies of Arizona since 1988 and a long time information line volunteer and Board Member.

 

Wanda Vonderhaar - Emeritus Member

Contact Us

Bosom Buddies, Inc. is a
501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Bosom Buddies of Arizona
11024 N. 28th Drive Suite #200
Phoenix, Arizona 85029 (map)
Phone:  602.265.2776
Information line:  602.231.6648
info@bosombuddies-az.org

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