One organization is empowering Queens against breast cancer through personal experience and support

Breast Cancer
Photo courtesy of SHAREing & CAREing

Anna Kril, the founder and president of SHAREing and CAREing, is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Having gone through the rigors of battling with breast cancer, Kril set out on a mission to advocate for others in need of support and care during their cancer diagnosis. 

“The first time I was diagnosed was 30 years ago,” said Kril. “Here I am, a young woman, I didn’t even understand — and I’m a college grad— what the word breast cancer meant. And not only did I not understand anything about breast cancer, I certainly was shocked when I realized that I was in a late-stage and they gave me all maybe five years.”

Dating back to 1994, SHAREing and CAREing is a grassroots organization founded by four breast cancer survivors. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the not-for-profit organization spoke with residents of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association in October to share key information on cancer testing and services. 

SHAREing and CAREing speaks to attendees at the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association in October. Photo by Anthony Medina

“When you’re sick, when you’re fighting for your life, you don’t need the extra stress about worrying about getting evicted or having the lights turned off, or you don’t have groceries in the house,” added Laura Jean Hawkins, chair of the advisory board of SHAREing and CAREing’s Board of Directors.

As part of their mission to help educate, inform and support the public in combating breast cancer and other forms of cancer, SHAREing and CAREing’s founder talked about how her personal journey helped to better connect with cancer patients and survivors, especially in Queens. 

“My experience was painful,” Kril said. “Because first of all, you realize when the insurance companies start sending those bills and collection agencies come after to you, you feel like you’re a burden to your family. You feel guilty that you’re putting them through such terrible hardships financially. You have children in school, you feel guilty, because now tuition payments are really a very, very big responsibility, in addition to having thousands of dollars in CO payments. 

According to Kril, one of the major reasons for the organization to plant its roots in Queens was an apparent lack of care options in the borough. Although the organization is based in Astoria, Kril says their services are available to residents in all of Queens, to better help people in areas not easily accessible to care or information options. 

“My daughters, for example, wanted to know what’s going to happen to you. When you’re standing there saying ‘I’m fighting for my life,’ I don’t have a clue, but I do know, we’re going to do everything we can to try to make things better for you, for the future.” 

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. In 2023, an estimated 43,700 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is 1 in 39, or about 2.5%.

Kril emphasized how one of the best ways to prevent late stage breast cancer diagnoses is through mammogram screenings. 

“My dream was always, ‘I hope breast cancer is eradicated.’ Well, I’ve come to realize at this point in my life, I don’t think it will be. But we know one thing, the treatments are phenomenal. If you’re diagnosed early, it’s a beautiful, wonderful thing. And you would not have to go through horrible surgeries. And even that now today, it’s so easy, versus 30 years ago,” Kril said.

If you or someone you know is in need of support, free or low-cost cancer screening and/or other cancer-related services, you can contact SHAREing and CAREing Inc. at 718-777-5766.