While she was in recovery from breast reconstruction surgery following a double mastectomy, Terri Coutee began a blog that would later lead to a nonprofit. Coutee had been lucky – she was among the 23 percent of mastectomy patients who have the full range of options for breast reconstruction surgery presented to them. Through her extensive research, she was able to find the best possible surgeon and the type of breast reconstruction that was right for her.
Coutee elected to have a type of surgery called DIEP flap, in which a microsurgeon uses tissue and blood vessels from the belly to reconstruct the breasts. She calls the results of the surgery “nothing short of amazing.”
In her effort to ensure that other cancer survivors have the same information she did, Coutee began connecting with medical professionals on social media. Her blog became increasingly popular as breast cancer patients sought advice and guidance there. In July 2016, she turned her educational efforts into a the DiepCFoundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Coutee’s foundation supports breast cancer survivors by providing them with guidance, evidence-based research, and education about all the options available to them post-mastectomy. The foundation has an entry in Guidestar, and Coutee has raised money through Amazon Smiles, as well as fund-raising events hosted in collaboration with artists and musicians.
Coutee meets with her mentor, Nancy Hessney about once a month. Hessney introduced her to Guidestar, a service that reports on U.S. nonprofits. That gave the foundation national credibility and allowed Coutee to solicit donations through Amazon Smile.
Coutee says “My SCORE mentor has been instrumental in giving me resources for funding, assessing what else can be done to give the Foundation visibility, and continually reinforces the efforts that I am making on behalf of the Foundation.”