Lara was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 30, 7 months pregnant with her second son. A woman Lara had never met, but with whom she shared a mutual friend sent her a package. Inside were beautiful scarves she wore during cancer treatment and a note saying, “You can do this.” The scarves were both practical and inspiring. And, knowing someone else had worn the scarves and faced cancer helped Lara believe she could do it too. Not long after she finished treatment, Lara went to a Young Survival Coalition Conference. She packed several scarves in hopes that she could pass them along to another woman, as had so graciously been done for her. There, Lara met Roberta and they laughed together as she showed her different ways to wear a scarf. Upon the completion of her treatment, Roberta sent the scarves back to Lara. She had since moved and one of the first friends she met was starting treatment. Lara brought over a scarf to Brooke’s house and they laughed through their tears about what it is like to lose your hair. This whole time Lara couldn’t stop thinking about the amazing journey these scarves were on.
So, Lara created Hope Scarves in 2012 as a way to capture these beautiful stories and encourage others. The program started in her spare bedroom with her toddler volunteer by her side, sending out 2-3 Hope Scarves a week. Today Hope Scarves is a bustling office of volunteers and staff, sending nearly 50 scarves a week all around the world. Hope Scarves has sent over 7,000 scarves to every state and 16 countries, to people facing over 90 different types of cancer. The oldest recipient is 92 and the youngest, 4. The Hope Scarf Collection, which changes constantly, contains over 10,000 scarves and over 500 stories.