About RRI

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Our Mission

The Reach to Recovery movement is built on one simple yet universal principle: a woman who has lived through breast cancer and gives freely of her time to help another woman facing the same experience is a valuable source of support. Reach to Recovery International serves as an umbrella organization for Reach to Recovery programs and similar programs and organizations throughout the world.  RRI’s mission is:

  • To unite organizations throughout the world which support women with breast cancer in order to share ideas and best practices;
  • To disseminate valuable information to support women with breast cancer and their families throughout the world via bi-annual conferences, our website, our e-newsletter, and other forms of worldwide communications; and
  • To assist our affiliated programs and organizations with:
    • Improving the quality of life of women with breast cancer and their families;
    • Providing peer support by carefully trained volunteers to women with breast cancer and their families;
    • Advocating on behalf of women with breast cancer and their families; and
    • Promoting consumer involvement in breast cancer research.

Our Guiding Principles

Reach to Recovery International and its affiliated programs and organizations are dedicated to improving the quality of life of those affected by breast cancer and their families through peer support, advocacy, and consumer involvement in research.

Members of the network benefit from sharing expertise in volunteer breast cancer support, as well as resources, connections, and experiences in a commitment to improve the quality of life of women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a global issue. Each year around 1,380,000 women worldwide* are diagnosed with the disease. For many women and their families this is a challenging and difficult time and it has been consumers, the women themselves, who have highlighted the necessity of appropriate supportive care following a diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.

The Reach to Recovery movement plays a unique and important role; a role which acknowledges and celebrates the power of shared personal experience.

History of Reach to Recovery

Terese Lasser started the Reach to Recovery movement in the United States in 1952. Following her own operation for breast cancer, she persuaded the medical community that patients could benefit from the opportunity to talk with someone who had been through a similar experience. Reach to Recovery grew to be widely accepted and highly regarded by patients and doctors around the world.

In 1974, Francine Timothy and the American Cancer Society introduced Reach to Recovery to Europe.  By the time she retired as chair of Reach to Recovery International in 1994, Francine Timothy had seen the program spread to many countries throughout the world. She was also very successful in convincing medical staff to open their hospitals to Reach to Recovery volunteers.

Read more about Terese Lasser and the history of RRI in the May 2013 edition of Bloom e-newsletter.

Past Presidents

  • 2013 – present: Cathy Hirsch (USA)
  • 2007 – 2013: Ann Steyn (South Africa)
  • 2003 – 2007: Ranjit Kaur (Malaysia)
  • 2000 – 2003: Lisa Hoie (Norway)
  • 1998 – 2000: May Ryan (Ireland)
  • 1996 – 1998: Betty McCrum (Northern Ireland)
  • 1994 – 1996: Gungerd Lemon (Sweden)

RRI Board of Directors and Officers

Cathy Brice Hirsch, Towson, Maryland USA – President and Treasurer
Ann Steyn, Cape Town, South Africa – Vice President, Immediate Past President
Ranjit Kaur Pritam Singh, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Past President
Karen DeSantis, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware USA – Secretary
David Hirsch, Towson, Maryland USA – Legal Counsel

Special Advisor to RRI

Professor Jeff Dunn, AO, Brisbane, Australia

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