Kristen found a lump in her breast when she was 27 years old but was told she was too young to have breast cancer. When Kristen did consult a surgeon, the diagnosis of breast cancer was made one year after her initial inquiry regarding the lump.
Linda McAllister, a business associate and friend of Kristen’s, knew Kristen had no family in the area and was in a terrible emotional state about her diagnosis and prognosis. Linda felt the support of other survivors in the area would be helpful to Kristen. Mary Beth O’Reilly met Kristen at Kristen’s first chemotherapy treatment. They became good friends.
Mary Beth introduced her to other survivors of breast cancer who became friends with Kristen through her long battle with the disease. On December 18, 1998, Kristen O’Brien Hardy lost her life to recurrent breast cancer at the age of 31.
Kristen’s friends and family who desired to make memorial contributions on her behalf wanted funds to be available to assist others dealing with breast cancer. They also wanted the funds to stay local. At that time, there was no vehicle to ensure that their contributions would go directly back into the community.
In May 1999, Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks was established to provide help and hope to local families impacted by breast cancer. The first contribution was made by BCFO founder, Mary Beth O’Reilly, and matched by Kristen’s surgeon, Joni Scott, MD, in tribute to all the patients Dr. Scott has treated for breast cancer. Other breast cancer survivors and friends of Kristen have made donations in her memory as well. Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks incorporated on February 23, 2000 and received not-for-profit status the following year.
Education on a variety of issues is an emphasis for BCFO because of situations like Kristen’s. She sought medical attention for a lump in her breast a year prior to her diagnosis and was told she was too young for breast cancer. Because of this and similar situations, there is a need to focus education on those under 40 as well as those over 40.