“Cancer doesn’t discriminate, and neither do we,” says Elissa Brown, founder of the local nonprofit Polite Tumor. Founded in 2017, this organization offers financial assistance to women under 40 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Brown emphasizes that the organization strives to build community and offer support in the healing process, no strings attached.
Brown was diagnosed with breast cancer at 31. After enduring a year of treatment, she launched Polite Tumor in 2017 as a response to the community that emotionally and financially supported her and that was critical in her healing process. She wanted to respond to the needs of young women, like herself, who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Brown and two friends started the organization and raised $10,000 in the first two weeks. They built the brand on humor, gratitude, and giving back. Brown says, “Initially our board was all friends and family, and our community continues to be the people who supported me. From there it has grown to the community of people that Polite Tumor has supported.”
How it works
Polite Tumor works in two ways. The first is the creation and design of humorous “Thank You” cards and print work by artists and creatives throughout the country, which are sold on the website. The cards feature very breast pun-ny sentiments, such as “Thanks for Perking Me Up” and “Nip Nip Hooray!” allowing for a lighthearted perspective and wonderful way to share appreciation. The organization also relies on traditional fundraising throughout the year. The biggest event is Polite Tumor’s Night of Humor in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which features a local comedian. Brown says they’re planning to increase the number of events, like donation yoga and barre classes, to occur every other month. Everything goes toward funding their goal to help every Colorado woman under 40 diagnosed with breast cancer, and then beyond.
Who it helps
Polite Tumor works with providers throughout the Denver area to make the process as easy as possible. Brown says, “Our criteria focuses on getting providers to talk to their patients about their mental health as well as their financial wellbeing. From there, they refer patients to us, and we provide them the application.” Each grantee receives $5,000 to use however she wishes. The amount the organization raises within a year determines the number of grantees. Brown says, “We want this grant to make an impact on somebody’s life. We’d rather serve less people in a more meaningful way than more people on a surface level.” Some women have used the funds to afford more holistic and naturopathic treatments; for fertility preservation; toward their deductible; for time with their family members; and, perhaps most important, for debt prevention.
How to get involved
Polite Tumor launched a new website in February that offers a portal for artists, and they’re always looking for people who care about the cause and want to fundraise or reach out and spread their mission. The website also features a link to donate directly. Don’t forget about their wonderful “Thank You” cards and prints that are available to purchase, too. If that’s not the tits, we don’t know what is!
Helping the under-40 breast cancer patient