Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization

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Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization or Y-ME (previously Breast Cancer Network of Strength),[1] was a Chicago-based national nonprofit organization with the mission to ensure, through information, empowerment and peer support, that no one faces breast cancer alone. Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization did not fund research but did advocate for research. The organization closed in 2012.[2]

Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization's headquarters was in Chicago, but it had support groups[3] throughout the United States, which provided peer support, educational programs, and coordinated advocacy efforts.

Y-ME's main program was the Y-ME Hotline, the only multilingual 24-hour breast cancer hotline in the country,[4] staffed entirely by trained peer counselors who are breast cancer survivors.


Y-ME was founded in 1978 by breast cancer patients Ann Marcou (1932–2004)[5] and Mimi Kaplan (d. 1983),[6] and began as a hotline operated out of Marcou's Chicago-area home and a support group that met at a local YWCA.[6] The organization was originally named YWCA and Me after its association with the local YWCA and the name was later shortened to Y-ME.[7] Y-ME became a national organization that helped breast cancer patients receive support, access information and make informed decisions about their healthcare. Its hotline was notable for being the only multilingual, round-the-clock support service available in the US[8] and received approximately 40 000 calls per year.[2][9]

In 1992, Margaret Harte founded Y-ME's annual Mother's Day Race Against Breast Cancer[2] which supported breast cancer survivors and raised money each year to support the organization.[9]

Y-ME changed its name to Breast Cancer Network of Strength in 2008 to "better communicate [their] mission,"[10] which was "to ensure through information, empowerment and peer support, that no one faces breast cancer alone."[10] It reverted to its former name in 2011[11] after CEO Cindy Geoghegan was hired.[12]

Y-ME closed its doors on July 12, 2012 and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on July 17, 2012.[8] One former employee said that the organization had mismanaged real estate leases[13] while a former board member said that the organization closed due to the economic downturn, low Mother's Day Race receipts, and other short-term debt.[13] Another former board member said that the organization had shut down because there had been "[a] serious cash flow problem stemming from an unexpected cash flow crisis and low revenues from our major fundraisers put the organization in financial instability."[9]


Y-ME offered a number of programs that provided support and education for both the people diagnosed with breast cancer and their loved ones. These programs included the multilingual 24-hour hotline, the organization's website, as well as newsletters, brochures, and other articles.[14] Y-ME also offered monthly support groups at affiliate locations and matched peer support for those diagnosed with breast cancer and their partners.[14] In its effort to focus on women who did not have many financial resources, the organization offered free mammograms, wigs, and prosthetics to women without financial resources them.[15]

Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization Advocacy program[16] worked to increase breast cancer research funding, support breast cancer related clinical studies and ensure quality health care for all.[17]


In 1991, Margaret Harte, a two-time breast cancer survivor, launched the Y-ME Race in Chicago (formerly known as the Walk to Empower)[18] to serve as a symbol of hope, inspiration and support, and to provide an opportunity for individuals to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. Since its inception, the Y-ME Race became a Mother's Day tradition and the largest cause-related event in Chicago.[citation needed] Eighty percent of each dollar raised benefited programs and services offered free of charge to those seeking information and support when facing breast cancer.


  1. ^ "Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization returns to former name" (PDF). Press release. Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization. 2011-01-11. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
  2. ^ a b c Byrne, John (14 July 2012). "Y-Me organization closes its doors". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization support groups".
  4. ^ Kirk, Margaret C. (2007). "Y-ME Empowers Those Living With Breast Cancer". Journal of Oncology Practice. 3 (1): 40. doi:10.1200/jop.0715002. PMC 2793710. PMID 29436906.
  5. ^ Sherlock, Barbara (10 November 2004). "Ann Marcou, 72". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  6. ^ a b Dell'Angela, Tracy (13 October 1996). "For The Love Of A Friend". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  7. ^ Kedrowski, Karen M; Sarow, Marilyn S (2007). Cancer Activism: Gender, Media, and Public Policy. University of Illinois Press. p. 22. ISBN 9780252031984.
  8. ^ a b Palank, Jacqueline (24 July 2012). "Breast Cancer Support Group to Liquidate". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Hill, Darlene (12 July 2012). "Y-ME breast cancer support organization closes doors". Fox Television Stations. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Y-ME Makes Historic Announcement on Mother's Day". 11 May 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  11. ^ Bentley, Chris (17 July 2012). "Sudden Shutdown of Breast Cancer Group Spurs State's Attorney Review". Chicagoist. Gothamist. Archived from the original on 17 January 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Y-ME Board Names Cindy Geoghegan as Chief Executive Officer". Reuters. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Y-NOT". Chicago Sun-Times. 17 July 2012. Archived from the original on 22 August 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  14. ^ a b Kirk, Margaret C. (January 2007). "Y-ME Empowers Those Living With Breast Cancer". Journal of Oncology Practice. 3 (1): 40. doi:10.1200/JOP.0715002. PMC 2793710. PMID 29436906.
  15. ^ "Y-ME'S mission: To provide services and resources at no charge". The Beacon News. 5 October 2005.
  16. ^ "Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization advocacy".
  17. ^ "Y-Me Breast Cancer Hotline". R News. 2005-03-16. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
  18. ^ "Y-ME Race at Your Pace".

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