Our mission

ABCD nurtures hope and restores confidence in anyone impacted by breast cancer.

In 1992, Melodie Wilson Oldenburg, an Emmy award-winning Milwaukee journalist, announced on live television that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Being in the public eye, she continued talking about her disease on television and in the community. As she talked, call after call came in from people Melodie had never met, asking simply…what do I do? They, too, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but felt overwhelmed and alone.

Melodie brought together physicians, clinicians, survivors, patients and caregivers and launched ABCD in 1999. To this day, her founding vision remains clear: No one needs to feel alone after hearing the words, “you have breast cancer.”

The ABCD community was deeply saddened by Melodie’s passing in November 2009, as were all who knew her. But gratitude for her vision of what could be and the legacy she has left for those diagnosed with breast cancer are the foundation of our work going forward.

The Power of One-to-One

Decades of research indicate that patients who take advantage of non-clinical support like ABCD’s customized, one-to-one support are more likely to finish treatment, have improved survival rates, show a reduced risk of recurrence, and report experiencing less distress, healthier social relationships, and an improved quality of life.

ABCD’s “Leaping Lady” by artist Dave Cutler represents a breast cancer patient’s journey from fear and darkness to hope and light.

“I was honored when ABCD asked me to create art for the organization. It makes me happy to know that my work can help a meaningful cause. Doing so is perhaps my greatest joy in being an artist, that is, to help others even if it is in some small way.”
— Dave Cutler

About us

ABCD provides customized, one-to-one emotional support to anyone impacted by a breast cancer diagnosis. While we are founded and grounded in Milwaukee, WI, our services are available to anyone in the world.

Working as a complement to the medical team, and drawing from a pool of more than 300 professionally-trained Mentors, ABCD pairs people who not only share a similar diagnosis and treatment plan, but who also have common interests, personal traits and family dynamics.

ABCD’s support services are free and delivered at time of diagnosis, during treatment and into survivorship.

Support for underserved markets

African American Outreach Programming

This outreach program seeks to reduce breast cancer morbidity and mortality among black women who reside in high-risk neighborhoods of Milwaukee’s inner city. ABCD and Nurses Affecting Change focus on providing breast health and breast cancer risk management education and support to the mothers, sisters, daughters, nieces and other family members of women who have experienced breast cancer firsthand. For more information, please contact Bonnie Anderson at (414) 745-4684.

Nuestra Conexión

Launched in 2017, ABCD’s Nuestra Conexión Project addresses health disparity and access to care issues in Southeastern Wisconsin’s Latino communities. Together with healthcare providers and community leaders, Nuestra Conexión delivers needed information on breast cancer survivorship and breast health education in a comprehensive, culturally-sensitive platform. Core activities include strategic partnerships, targeted outreach and community involvement and recruitment and training of Spanish-speaking Mentors for our free signature service of providing emotional support through one-to-one mentoring.

Nuestra Conexión supports anyone in the Hispanic community affected by breast cancer (patients, families, caregivers and friends) who, for a variety of reasons, have not benefited as much as other population groups from supportive services. By breaking through cultural barriers, we are able to reach and serve more people in need of our free, non-clinical, personalized, peer-to-peer emotional support services.

According to the NCI, while the incidence of breast cancer in Latinos is modestly lower than that of Caucasians and African Americans, there is a much higher rate of late diagnosis and mortality. By providing support in Spanish and being present in Southeastern Wisconsin’s Latino communities, ABCD is educating people about early detection, survivorship and emotional support so that they can be informed and live their best life.

Pink Shawl Initiative

ABCD is a proud community partner of the Wisconsin Inter-Tribal Pink Shawl Initiative. Together we strive to reduce breast cancer in American Indian communities through education, advocacy and service. Raising awareness of available resources will hopefully result in an increase in the number of American Indian women accessing screening opportunities.

Learn More ›

Annual Reports & Donors

ABCD believes in providing transparency with our financials for our donors and the general public. We invite you to view any of the documents below for information about previous years.

Learn more about the healing effects of customized breast cancer support by visiting the following organizations:

National Cancer Institute ›
Office of Cancer Survivorship ›
National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship ›