Lauren Daniels has a family history of cancer, so being diagnosed with breast cancer wasn't the biggest surprise.
"Getting it at the age that I did was the big shocker," she said.
She was 35 years old with three children, the youngest just 1 year old. It was quite challenging.
"Being a mom and trying to take these days off," Daniels said. "And it's hard especially when the kids are young and for them to understand why mom is no longer available."
That was 10 years ago. Daniels had a great support system and imagined how trying it must be for mom's who don't have that kind of net.
"I wanted to do something that would support mother's going through this," Daniels said
Daniels went on to create a nonprofit called Happily Ever After League, which fundraises to offer grants to moms dealing with cancer who could use the money for what they feel is most helpful to them.
"We did our first fundraiser on the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis and we raised $50,000 and we started and we were in business," she said.
Three years later, Daniels decided social support was equally important. So she raised enough money to purchase an actual home in Phoenix. She calls it "The Healing House."
"Everything here in the house has been donated," she added. "We always have enough volunteers on hand where the moms, once they're here, don't have to worry about the kids at all."
It's a place Daniels says moms can go and feel "lifted."
"We opened the Healing House as a way to have our moms be able to come and make friendships and this would be a soft place for them to fall, for them to realize there were other people going through the same thing. It's sort of a cancer-free zone. We don't focus on cancer. We focus on living through cancer."
There are monthly social events and moms can even access a food pantry that stays stocked with everything from pasta and peanut butter to cereal and canned foods.
"So instead of giving out grocery gift cards, now we are giving out food and then we can pay for one month of their utility bills," she said. "In the last calendar year we gave over 7,000 pounds of food away."
Daniels finds fulfillment knowing she's taken her experience with cancer and turned it into something positive for others going through it too.
Daniels adds, "We don't really have a graduation phase where if they're through with their cancer they're not invited back. This is a home. It's like family."
Monday, September 15 2014 11:36 PM EDT2014-09-16 03:36:59 GMT
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