Q&A with We Are Here Co-Founder Shea Mencel
In 2018, I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer at the age of 29. My treatment included a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, plastic surgery, and hormone therapy. Before beginning chemotherapy, I was able to complete a successful IVF retrieval resulting in nine embryos, which my husband and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to use in the next year for a surrogacy journey for our first child. I also scalp cooled during chemo and kept all of my hair, despite my oncologist at the time insisting it would not work for me. I was, and still am, determined to forge a meaningful path forward that inspires control of my story and investment in my longevity.
I reached remission in the spring of 2019, but I unfortunately had an early stage metastatic recurrence in February 2021. This second diagnosis catapulted me into making “my mess my mission”, particularly because I am constantly aware and grateful that my access to resources is a contributing factor in my healing and continued success. Despite this, I still experience the gaps in cancer care and support in my own life, and it is my personal mission to make this process easier for all those affected by the disease.
My career has always been in the social impact space, and I joined as a Co-founder and Senior Director of We Are Here in the fall of 2021. I am so passionate about We Are Here’s incredible mission to ensure all people affected by cancer have access to the resources, support, community, and the everyday services and products they need, when they need them most.
Beyond my involvement with We Are Here, I actively serve as a Leadership Volunteer with Living Beyond Breast Cancer, where I provide mentorship and peer support for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. I also graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2022, acquiring certification as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, which allows me to coach our members from a holistic lens, including a nutrition and wellness perspective. I am always focused on improving the accessibility and equity of health and wellness resources, starting with our members at We Are Here.
We Are Here Partnership
Who is We Are Here?
We Are Here is a digital health platform transforming the lives of those affected by cancer. By addressing the profound impact cancer has on daily life, we save precious time, alleviate financial burdens, and ease distress. We Are Here is a powerful ally during a cancer journey, empowering patients, loved ones, and healthcare professionals.
We serve patients, caregivers, and survivors to minimize the impact cancer has on finances, emotions, relationships, and stamina to improve their everyday life and outcomes. Each member receives navigational support curated to their specific needs, which includes:
- Personalized Content: Relevant and informative resources catered to their specific circumstances.
- Customized Checklists: Comprehensive guides to keep them organized and ensure no crucial step is overlooked.
- Community & Peer Support: Opportunities to connect with others who understand, fostering a sense of belonging and mutual support.
- Individualized Connections: Access to a wide network of resources, products, and services, most free and discounted through our platform.
- Individualized Connections: Our wide network of resources, products, and services (most free and discounted) are curated to each member’s needs.
We save individuals going through cancer time and money, as well as reduce their overall overwhelm.
Everyone who works at We Are Here has been affected by cancer (as a patient, caregiver, or both), and knows first-hand how this kind of individualized support isn’t just necessary: it’s transformational for the cancer experience and outcomes.
What is the organization trying to accomplish?
We are revolutionizing the patient experience. At the heart of our mission we believe – and are constantly working to demonstrate – that by actively addressing the everyday needs of those affected by cancer, we can profoundly enhance outcomes while simultaneously reducing the strain on clinicians and healthcare systems.
Our platform serves as a comprehensive resource hub, encompassing a wide range of products, services, community connections, and invaluable advice tailored to those affected by cancer. At our core, we prioritize the uniqueness of each member, acknowledging their distinct needs. Our approach allows us to streamline and simplify the resource connection process, empowering both individuals and healthcare providers while fostering a more efficient and effective system of support.
We envision a future where individuals affected by cancer can access the support they need when they need it. By streamlining the process and providing a unified platform, we empower both patients and healthcare providers, fostering a more seamless and efficient ecosystem of care.
When our members are unsure what they need, our team is dedicated to helping them determine immediate needs as well as resources that will be supportive in the future. We are actually still supporting our very first member who signed up with us in 2021, which makes us very proud.
What motivated you to start We Are Here?
This is definitely a passion project for me. We Are Here is what I have needed since my first diagnosis in 2018 but was never able to find. I built my own rolodex of resources and support through research and networking, a luxury most do not have or have no idea where to start. We Are Here is an essential solution to the gaps in cancer support and care. We are on a mission to get our service to everyone affected by cancer.
How can a company or individuals get involved with We Are Here?
Our members can get signed up with us by clicking “get help now” on our website at www.wearehere.com. This initiates an immediate guided onboarding process. For our members who do not have access to email or texting, we are always happy to serve them on the phone or through a loved one supporting them. The service remains free for individual members to join.
As advocates for continuous growth and improvement, we consistently seek out new partnerships with both nonprofit and for-profit entities – as well as healthcare professionals and healthcare systems. We are always hungry for discovering valuable products, services, and resources that cater to the diverse needs of our growing community. Healthcare systems, companies and organizations who would like to collaborate can reach out to us at email@example.com. We know that by joining forces, we have the opportunity to forge purposeful collaborations that make a lasting impact on the lives of those we serve.