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Hope comes full circle with Circle of Hope, Inc.

Colleen Shaffer, founder of Circle of Hope, Inc. to speak at Senior Center

Posted: September 12, 2009 5:09 p.m.
Updated: September 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Colleen Shaffer is the founder of Circle of Hope, Inc. She is a breast cancer survivor and will speak Wednesday, Sept. 16 at the SCV Senior Center. Colleen Shaffer is the founder of Circle of Hope, Inc. She is a breast cancer survivor and will speak Wednesday, Sept. 16 at the SCV Senior Center.
Colleen Shaffer is the founder of Circle of Hope, Inc. She is a breast cancer survivor and will speak Wednesday, Sept. 16 at the SCV Senior Center.
Dale Carnegie, one of the most inspirational speakers of all time, once said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”  

He could have been speaking about Colleen Shaffer of Newhall, the founder and executive director of Circle of Hope, a non-profit organization that provides emotional support and medical financial assistance to those with breast cancer who are uninsured or underinsured who live, work or receive their cancer treatments in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Shaffer is warmly benevolent, yet fiercely passionate when it comes to the people she assists through Circle of Hope. She is a woman armed with great knowledge about cancer from diagnosis to tests, surgery, treatments, medication and the emotional maelstrom of cancer because she is herself a cancer survivor, waging her own battle since 1999. Despite having metastatic cancer, Shaffer has dedicated her life to helping other breast cancer patients as they fight, too.

According to the National Cancer Institute, a component of the National Institutes of Health, a woman’s chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer is 1 in 233 from ages 30 to 39 and it increases with age. From ages 60 to 69 the estimate is 1 in 27.
With our country in the midst of a major health insurance crisis and so many patients with inadequate or no medical coverage, especially the senior population, the oppressive financial cost of breast cancer can prevent an individual from focusing on recovery, comfort or having any hope at all.  

Circle of Hope helps those undergoing breast cancer treatment and their families by encircling them with the emotional and practical support needed to face the future through three service programs: Second Opinion Assistance, Financial Medical Aid and the Compassionate Angel Program. Assistance is provided to clients who complete the application process and meet the criteria.
Circle of Hope provides, in the words of senior citizen Helen Bragar, “glimmerings of hope.”

Brager has been a client of Circle of Hope since April 2009 after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Living on a fixed income, the growing medical costs forced her and her husband of 62 years to downsize their lives and relocate to a senior citizen apartment complex in the SCV, a move that they anticipated as being a bit of a “downer.”

They watched as most of their belongings drove away in a Salvation Army truck and what they were left with, was a few items on a dining room table and very little hope thanks to rising medical bills and dwindling finances.

Reading a local article about Circle of Hope gave Bragar the “glimmer of hope” she needed. After completing the application process, Circle of Hope approved her for a maximum lifetime grant of $10,000 to assist with medical expenses and the emotional support she needs. Besides the financial assistance she received, Bragar said Shaffer’s knowledge, survival instinct and caring nature “gave me the inspiration to do my utmost to overcome my own problem.”

Octogenarian Gloria Gibbs, another client of Circle of Hope since the beginning of 2008, said that living on social security benefits, she could have never afforded the medication needed and once found herself having to make a decision between medicine and food.  

The cost of a medication that has prevented her cancer from spreading for nearly two years, $1,600 for two weeks, was becoming increasingly impossible to cover.  

“Circle of Hope keeps me from worrying. I have no worries now and Colleen is just full of information and that, well, it has just been so helpful to me,” she said.

In an effort to assist and educate the SCV’s senior population, Shaffer will be a guest speaker at the Santa Clarita Senior Center in activity rooms 1 & 2 at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 to share her story and provide important information about Circle of Hope and how it can help patients with the tools and hope they need to move forward.

For information visit or call (661) 254-5218 or contact the Santa Clarita Senior Center (661) 255-1588 or visit

T. Katz is a Santa Clarita Valley resident and a member of Circle of Hope, Inc.


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