Find Orlando Family Magazine on Facebook! Follow Orlando Family Magazine on Twitter!

The Strength to Keep Fighting

With a focus on the necessity of forging forward; adaptability, creativity and resilience— internally and externally—allow the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation to continue to advocate and educate in spite of 2020’s challenges.

When the COVID-19 pandemic brought the country to a standstill in March, the people behind the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation didn’t have time to sit back and wait.

“This event made us more motivated than ever because it put the people we serve at an even higher risk,” says Tracy Jacim, president and CEO of the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation (FBCF). “Not only are they battling for their lives and the health care they need, but now they could be at risk of losing their job, or their spouse’s income. And as if that wasn’t enough, those currently in treatment have to operate very cautiously due to the fact compromised immune systems could put them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. As an organization, we knew we had to adapt quickly.”

Jacim says they were fueled by survivors’ strength. “When you are faced with a cancer diagnosis you have to adapt and be resilient. Those are traits survivors have to exude in their fight, and we had to follow their example to overcome this unprecedented situation.”

In addition to funding their full grant cycle this year, Jacim says she’s proud FBCF also responded to the pandemic with the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund—a $50,000 grant for nonprofits to provide funding for living expenses for Floridians in active breast cancer treatment and impacted by COVID-19. “The economic fallout from COVID may really come after the main event and there could be more struggle ahead,” she says. “Our goal is to not only continue to fund direct services, but to grow that fund, and to do that we need the help of our partners, our donors and our supporters.”

This hasn’t been the year anyone expected, especially for Jacim who was newly installed in her position just this past January. A former anchor and reporter for Fox 35, Jacim joined FBCF in 2019 as its director of community empowerment for the Central Florida region. She calls the role of president and CEO an “honor and privilege.”

“Moving into the role of president and CEO is an opportunity that fuels and impassions me … it’s exciting every day to be able to work with our stellar board and help lead the organization and shape its future,” she says. “There is so much to do, so many people who need our help. This year has forced us to press fast forward on certain areas of growth, including some virtual programs, but we are rising to the challenge and, actually, that challenge is benefiting us in some ways by allowing us to become more stable.”

Technology is also allowing much of the events and programming centered around Breast Cancer Awareness Month to carry on while some pandemic restrictions remain in place. For the second year in a row, FBCF is partnering with the Orlando Sports Foundation for the Race 2 Cure. The event kicks off virtually Oct. 1 and participants can log their virtual walk or run any time during the month, which could in turn boost participation since people can complete their activity on their own schedule and in a safe, socially distant manner.

FBCF is also launching a program called Virtual MASS (Mammograms After Sunday Service), a virtual adaptation of a program created by a survivor and works to reduce the number of late-stage diagnoses in underserved African-American and minority communities with education and access to screenings.

“A lot of people don’t realize that only 10 percent of breast cancer cases are hereditary, and the majority are caused by environmental factors. That means educating women, and men, is key. Lifestyle and health care choices can make a difference. Our job is to make sure people know that. It’s also our job to make sure people know how to respond to a family history.”

Advocacy will likely continue virtually as well, being that it is one of the primary missions of the organization. “We had just been to Tallahassee back in February and had one of our largest turnouts. We are always making our voices heard in the capital, looking for legislation that supports breast cancer patients getting the treatments they need, not what insurance companies may dictate,” Jacim says.

All funds raised by FBCF stay in Florida, ensuring that programs are directly benefiting your family, your friends and your neighbors, Jacim continues. The organization also touts a perfect score from Charity Navigator—the only breast cancer organization both statewide and nationwide to do so.

Work continues on the medical frontier as well. Board members of the FBCF are on the front lines of research and treatment at renowned institutions such as UCF, UF and the Moffitt Cancer Center. “It is invaluable to have them on the board. They are in the labs daily, working on cancer breakthroughs. They keep us updated on the latest advancements which helps determine our compass,” she says.

Seeing the impact this organization makes on a daily basis is what keeps Jacim and the team going. “We think about the people who need this help, and we’ve all seen this year that there are so many factors we can’t control,” she says. “I truly believe passion and flexibility are the keys. If there is a way to get it done, we will find it.”

A great way to lend support is by purchasing a specialty “End Breast Cancer” license plate, with a portion of the proceeds going to the FBCF.

Florida Breast Cancer Foundation
1755 Oviedo Mall Blvd. | Oviedo
321-972-5534 |

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s October 2020 issue.