3 months ago

Forge creates Young Breast Cancer Support group to help Alabama survivors 45 and younger

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is the furthest thing from most young women’s minds.

In 2019, Audra Chiles’s life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Chiles’s first inkling that anything was amiss was when she noticed a marble-size growth. Before that, the busy young career woman looked only toward the future.

“I was hit in the face with a very traumatic diagnosis,” said Chiles, who works in the web-based industry in Birmingham. “I felt like it was the end of my life. I was dealing with death. I had all this mental and emotional trauma I had to walk through.”

After coming through the ordeal, Chiles wants to give back by helping others – and she’s doing that by facilitating Zoom meetings for young breast cancer patients and survivors.

Forging the Young Breast Cancer Survivor group

In the middle of turmoil, Chiles found an advocate in Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center. She credits Forge’s support with helping her recover and deal with difficult emotions. Chiles’ doctor told her about Forge, which provides resources, support and counseling to breast cancer patients and their families. The nonprofit receives most of its referrals from oncologists, surgeons and clinician offices in the Birmingham area, though it serves patients in the five counties around the city.

“I’d never had surgery and didn’t know what to expect,” said Chiles, who is 27. “I wanted a community who could guide me. Forge had peer mentors. The information they gave me was incredibly valuable and helpful.”

During treatment, Chiles took advantage of Forge’s counseling services. Chiles is among more than 220 patients served by Forge since 2016. The nonprofit has impacted more than 2,300 family members and friends of patients.

“We haven’t yet served any male patients, but we’re part of the support system for husbands, sons and other family members of primary clients,” said Claire Gray, Forge’s manager of Community Outreach.

Of Forge’s most recent 10 clients, four women were under 35, which led to its founding the Young Breast Cancer Support group in January. Group members received their primary diagnosis before age 45. Since many women have their first mammogram at 40, most people are more aware of women 50 and older receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, Gray said.

The group meets virtually at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month.

“We have a number of clients who were first diagnosed in their 20s and 30s,” Gray said. “That’s a very different experience, so we are doing our best to help support and walk alongside them as they navigate a completely different journey.

“One reason we felt strongly about providing the Young Breast Cancer Survivor group as a resource is, because with COVID, you’re not seeing anyone right now,” she said. “Zoom and text makes it easy to get a group together who are going through a similar struggle and find that connection that we’re so desperately missing right now. We’ve seen younger women who have been diagnosed that are reaching out to us for support. We want women to know there’s help out there for any stage of their journey.”

The desire to ease someone else’s journey is why Chiles decided to become a patient advocate at Forge.

Under the tutelage of Forge’s caring staff, Chiles guides monthly Zoom meetings, which give attendees – about 10 women – a time to share their experiences. Attendees discuss their experiences and family issues, and seek advice.

Chiles endured mastectomy surgery and chemotherapy but doesn’t want other young women to feel alone undergoing similar treatments. She feels fortunate to have found the Forge community during her battle with cancer.

“I never thought I’d be a 26-year-old cancer survivor,” said Chiles, who has served as a Forge peer mentor since August 2020. “People like the opportunity to fellowship with others who have gone through the same thing. There are lots of opinions from people around you, but to actually get the perspective of someone in your shoes, who came out on the other side, allows for true empathy and understanding.

“To me, it was one of the darkest times in my life, so it helps to have other people to talk with,” Chiles said.

Providing counseling and advocacy

Forge helps with many factors that complicate a patient’s diagnosis.

“Patients are concerned for themselves, and they’re concerned for their family,” Gray said. “We talk with patients about how the diagnosis affects them.”

Forge partners with Oasis Counseling for Women and Children, located around the corner from Forge’s new headquarters at 1321 19th St. S. in Birmingham. Forge can refer clients who need mental health counseling for six free visits with a licensed counselor.

“Oasis can also counsel children who are having a hard time with the diagnosis or provide marital counseling,” said Lauren Roberts, executive director of Forge. “It’s not just for the breast cancer patient. It’s also for the family, because we focus not only on survivors, but also co-survivors who are the unsung heroes of victims of a cancer diagnosis. They can get overlooked a lot, so we also pay for mental health counseling for them.”

Forge provides a peer mentor and advocate program, comprised of volunteers who have completed eight or more hours of training. Mentors have undergone breast cancer treatment and are a friend the patient can talk to about issues they’re facing. Mentors don’t give medical advice but share their own experiences.

“In non-COVID times, mentors can attend doctor appointments with the patient, taking notes and helping the patient with complicated information,” Roberts said. “The needs of a young breast cancer patient are totally different. You’ve got potential fertility issues, you’ve got marriage, you’re working, you’re in that part of your life – though a diagnosis is never easy – it presents lots of different challenges. People are dealing with uncertainties about how chemo may affect fertility.”

Zooming into emotional healing

In February, women in Young Breast Cancer Survivors wrote “love letters” to themselves, encouraging an inward look at their best qualities. The goal was to have patients look further than their outer appearance, Gray said.

“With cancer, you look in the mirror and see yourself with a bald head and a frail face,” Chiles said. “The team at Forge is so brilliant at giving ideas.”

Chiles believes many emotions are tied to a person’s body and image. “Taking the time to tell why you do love yourself was very powerful for these women.”

Forge’s team has given Chiles the confidence to facilitate the monthly meetings and come up with activities and ideas.

“It’s helped me to participate, and these are things that are good for all of our healing,” she said. “To have this support means everything.”

To learn more about Forge, email volunteer@Forgeon.org to connect with Volunteer and Support Coordinator Jinida Holt, or call 1-800-811-8925.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 hours ago

Huntsville City Schools will go on with its vaccination clinic for minors without parental consent

Americans have been bombarded with requests, pleas, shaming and excoriations about how you must get vaccinated.

I bought in, and I think I may have even jumped the line accidentally. I also have a three-year-old, and I don’t envision a scenario where I rush him out to get a vaccine. If he were 14, 18 or 24, I wouldn’t pressure him to get vaccinated. If he were over 18, what could I do?

But if he were 14? That’s a no from me.

Schools in Alabama disagree, and at least one school system doesn’t care what you think.

Madison, Birmingham and Huntsville schools have all taken up the task of vaccinating your kids even though doctors, pharmacies and Wal-Mart have vaccines readily available.


In the coverage of the Huntsville vaccinations, the Alabama Media Group article specifically states that Huntsville City Schools will not require parental consent for those over 14.

Students under 14 must have a parent or guardian accompany them for the vaccine, according to the announcement on the Huntsville schools website. Everyone receiving the vaccine must present a legal form of identification including a driver’s license, passport, non-drivers ID, or a birth certificate. Participants must sign a consent form prior to receiving the vaccine and must register online in advance to receive the vaccine.

To put it simply — your 14-year-old can decide to take an experimental vaccine without your knowledge.

This is a betrayal of parents by Alabama schools.

They don’t care.

Keep in mind that this is happening as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still looking at the impact of the vaccine on young people.

Even the World Health Organization thinks this is a bad idea.

Some Alabama lawmakers are taking note.

State Senator Sam Givhan appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” and suggested the school systems should hit pause.

Explaining that just vaccinating everyone who shows up without parental consent is just a bad practice, Givhan said, “They don’t have everyone’s full medical history, and they don’t know the unique situations from certain kids. … And I just don’t think the high school should be giving these shots when, you know, you could actually cause someone to have medical problems from this, and then they’ll hide behind their state immunity shield and say you can’t sue them.”

Obviously, it is entirely possible that no children have been vaccinated without parental consent, but how would we know?

Huntsville City Schools seems hell-bent on continuing this. Attempts to speak to the school board we unsuccessful.

The board said in a statement, “We appreciate the invitation. Please see the information below surrounding the vaccine clinic. We have nothing more to add at this time.”

The gist is this: “Sorry, not sorry. We will vaccinate your kids without your permission. What are you going to do about it?”

The answer is people with means are going to either change these schools or flee American schools more than they already have.


Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

8 hours ago

Guest opinion: ‘For the People Act’ was always a bad idea

For months, we have been inundated with stories of a federal proposal named by the Democrat Party as the “For the People Act.” Upon closer examination of this mammoth piece of legislation, it should be renamed the “From the People Act” because this legislation clearly seeks to take the election process out of the hands of the American people. As a former probate judge, I see this for what it is – a federal attempt to take over our elections in violation of the United States Constitution.

The number of things wrong with this “Act” could fill a novel, but the most troubling aspects of this historical attempt to alter our elections and change the fabric of our nation include:


Automatic voter registration — The bill mandates that individuals who have interaction with certain government offices would be automatically registered to vote, but there is no mandate in the bill to only limit that registration to American citizens with the right to vote. Therefore, an individual who goes to the DMV for a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote, even if a felony has eliminated their right to vote or if they are not a citizen of the United States. The same holds true for those interacting with other government offices for assistance with a variety of services. Democrats argue that is not the intent of the provision but still refuse to establish any voter eligibility verification requirements in their proposal.

Funding of political campaigns — This act would divert money collected from fines of corporations from the nation’s general budget to a fund that would be specifically earmarked for the funding of political campaigns. This newly created “Freedom From Influence Fund” will serve as the exclusive source of funds for all federal public financing programs of political candidates. The idea that this bill increases funding for political campaigns from our government’s coffers is sickening. Our government has a gargantuan debt but this bill seeks to collect fines and, rather, than devote them to paying down that debt, diverts them to the accounts of political candidates. Absolutely mindboggling.

The list of problems with this proposal goes on and on and, although the proposal appears to be at a dead end now, it will rear its ugly head again. “We the People” must remain aware of attempts, such as these, to undermine our Democracy and we must oppose such measures at every turn.

Wes Allen currently represents Pike and Dale Counties in the State House of Representatives.

11 hours ago

Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Regions has added Joia M. Johnson to its board of directors, according to a release from the company.

Johnson will serve on the boards of Regions Financial Corp. and its subsidiary, Regions Bank, beginning on July 20.

She arrives at her new responsibilities having recently retired as chief administrative officer, general counsel and corporate secretary for Hanesbrands Inc., a leading apparel manufacturer and marketer.

Charles McCrary, chairman of the Regions Financial Corp. and Regions Bank Boards, believes Johnson’s experience will be a valuable addition to the board.

“Joia’s leadership experience, both at the corporate level and in various board roles, will add greater depth and insights to the Regions Board of Directors as we advance policies and strategies to benefit our customers, associates, communities, and shareholders,” McCrary explained.


Johnson added that she sees that experience as an asset in assisting the company achieve its vision for growth.

“I believe the breadth of my corporate experience and civic engagement will complement the additional experience and skills reflected throughout Regions’ current directors,” she stated. “As the company focuses not just on continuous improvement but also on long-term, sustainable growth, I am thrilled to become a part of building on Regions’ history of success – while also defining a very bright future for the organization and the people and communities we serve.”

McCrary also noted the alignment between Johnson’s unique skill set and the company’s mission.

“The Regions mission is to make life better for the people we serve, and we accomplish that mission by creating shared value for all of our stakeholders,” he remarked. “With her passion for strong governance and strategic community engagement, Joia will help us build on our progress and reach new heights in the years to come.”

After receiving an undergraduate degree from Duke University, Johnson earned a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Johnson’s financial services experience includes on the board of Global Payments Inc., a Fortune 500 payments technology company and eight years as a board member for Crawford & Company, which specializes in insurance claims administration.

Upon her installment, Johnson will serve on Regions’ 13-member board which will consist of 12 independent outside directors.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

12 hours ago

State Rep. Oliver: Combatting Critical Race Theory in Alabama is ‘the way we stand up to woke-ism’

Republicans have made taking on so-called Critical Race Theory a priority in recent weeks claiming such philosophies are an effort to undermine cultural norms and indoctrinate in a way that benefits the Democratic Party.

Florida, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma have banned the theory from their public school classrooms. Many would like to see Alabama follow suit, and there have been bills filed for the legislature’s 2022 regular session to do as much. One of those bills is being brought by State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville), who takes it beyond the classroom and applies restrictions throughout state government.

Oliver discussed the bill during Tuesday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show” on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5.


“[I]’ve got a bill that’s fairly unique, and we expect it to go through the state government committee,” he said. “My bill actually covers any state agency, its contractors and subcontractors, to include schools. We felt like it was important to address this issue with a holistic approach.”

“The first thing is deciding what you don’t want taught,” Oliver continued. “That’s the most important piece. And I would like to say, this bill, it absolutely describes what we don’t want taught — it doesn’t mean that you can’t teach inclusion or diversity. It means you can’t teach some things as fact and then we’re not going to teach our kids that one sex or race is better than another. And in a nutshell, that is the crux of it.”

The Tallapoosa County lawmaker said his effort could serve as a bulwark against a creeping effort to indoctrinate.

“[I]t’s the way we stand up to woke-ism,” Oliver declared. “If we’re ever going to draw a line in the sand, Critical Race Theory is it. I say that not because I’m the smartest guy in the world or this is something I’ve thought all my life, but I’ve got a child that goes to a major university in the state. And I am absolutely appalled by what I’ve witnessed there the last three years with my child. If you don’t think universities are indoctrinating your kids, everybody needs to wake up.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

13 hours ago

Manufacture Alabama backs Ainsworth for reelection

As Alabama maintains its status among the top states in the nation for manufacturing, the industry’s dedicated trade association has made its choice for lieutenant governor.

Manufacture Alabama has given its full support to Will Ainsworth in his bid for reelection to the office, according to a release from the group.

George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, cited Ainsworth’s background in manufacturing and knowledge of its key issues in announcing the endorsement.

“Manufacture Alabama is endorsing Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth for reelection due to his commitment to maintaining a business-friendly environment in Alabama,” Clark said. “Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth grew up in the manufacturing industry and understands firsthand that our members are the backbone of the state and nation’s economy. He is a friend to our association and a tireless advocate for manufacturers across Alabama. In his leadership role, it is clear that he is dedicated to serving his home state with enthusiasm and integrity. We are proud to give him our full endorsement for the reelection of Lieutenant Governor.”


Ainsworth, who has now picked up a string of endorsements from trade associations, believes the state’s successes in manufacturing are something that can continue.

“I am proud to have the endorsement of Manufacture Alabama,” he stated. “Our tremendous manufacturers are sources of good-paying 21st century jobs for hardworking Alabamians, and the goods and materials they produce are integral across a broad range of sectors. Alabama is open for business, and I’m firmly committed to making our state the workforce engine of the Southeast so we can continue to grow jobs through expansion and recruitment. Working together, I am confident we will build an even stronger Alabama for our children and our children’s children.”

The manufacturing industry employs more than 250,000 people in Alabama, a figure which makes up a double-digit percentage of the state’s workforce.

Ainsworth announced his reelection campaign earlier this month.

Since that time, he has received the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association, the Petroleum and Convenience Marketers Association and U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Ainsworth: Huntsville preferred location for Space Command ‘based on merit and based on policies’

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia