Hannah Harvey’s Cookies for Good raises funds for breast cancer support
Discover how an LBBC Young Advocate's heartfelt baking project is helping people navigating a breast cancer diagnosis.
Hannah Harvey has loved to bake for as long as she can remember. So, having completed her training as a Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) Young Advocate (YA) when she learned about the organization’s Gather for Good initiative, she was eager to use her passion for sharing homemade treats for a good purpose — to raise money to help other people navigating a breast cancer diagnosis. She started her own cookie-baking fundraising campaign, which she named “Cookies for Good.” Hannah set a modest personal fundraising goal of $1,000 and has already surpassed it.
The baker, who lives with her husband (and sous-chef) in Southeastern Pennsylvania, spoke with LBBC contributor Stephanie Levin about her experience as a young woman living with breast cancer, how she discovered LBBC and ultimately came to be trained in the YA program, and why participating in LBBC’s grassroots fundraising project appealed to her. Of course, she talked about cookies, too!
Stephanie: What is your personal experience with breast cancer?
Hannah: In December 2020, three weeks before I started a new job as a historic preservation specialist for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, I was diagnosed with stage 1 ER/PR+ breast cancer. I was grappling with the realities of the diagnosis, exploring surgery and chemo and radiation. It was very challenging, but the job training was a good distraction. I had to compartmentalize a lot.
Stephanie: At the end of 2020 we were closing out our first year of weathering the Covid-19 pandemic. How did Covid affect your diagnosis and treatment?
Hannah: When I first felt a lump in my breast earlier that year, Covid had just surfaced. I experienced a lot of fear that led to denial. I thought, this can’t be a thing; I’m too young for this. So, I didn’t address it right away.
In some ways a lot of what shaped my experience was affected by Covid restrictions; it was nerve wracking to go to appointments. But I also recognized how lucky I was to have so much support — and to benefit from privilege.
I was also immunocompromised, like anyone being treated for cancer, so I had to be especially cautious. I received the [Covid-19] vaccine as soon as I was able to. My husband and I were very tentative about going out until pretty recently.
Stephanie: What initially led you to LBBC’s resources?
Hannah: I was in the middle of treatment, and I was desperately searching for information about ovarian suppression and early menopause. I found LBBC’s online resources to be incredibly helpful in weighing my options.
Stephanie: You said you were grateful for the support you had. How did that affect your decision to become a YA?
Hannah: Definitely grateful. I wanted to help other people, so they don’t deny and ignore signs of cancer like I did initially. And I wanted to support other people. When I was first diagnosed, as a young person, I didn’t really know where to go for support and information.
I was also really thinking about the ways in which I benefited from privilege; I work in a supportive environment, and I have good accommodation. I didn’t experience financial toxicity, but I know a lot of people living with cancer do. I felt a deep sense of wanting to help other people who may not have the same resources I do.
Stephanie: Now that you’ve completed the training, how do you understand your role as an advocate?
Hannah: I very much feel like I’m only just beginning — as an advocate and in my life as a whole! I’ve learned so much, and I’m figuring out how to engage in advocacy. It’s a process.
Stephanie: What appealed to you about Gather for Good? How does this initiative positively impact those affected by breast cancer?
Hannah: As a DIY fundraising campaign, I was excited to be able to draw on my own interests and skills as a baker. But more importantly, I think it’s crucial that LBBC has clearly identified how the funds will be used for direct support programs. I hope Gather for Good will not only help LBBC offer and expand these programs, but also help raise awareness so that people who need these resources will find them.
I can easily get overwhelmed and feel a lot of self-doubt, but I have an understanding — and my YA cohort has helped me to see this, too — that we have a lot of power collectively.
Stephanie: Let’s talk about cookies! How do you find your recipes? Is there a particular cookbook you like?
Hannah: Dorie’s Cookies, by Dorie Greenspan, was given to me as a gift, and it has become my cookie journal. When I use a recipe, I write the date I made the cookies and the person I made them for. I add notes about what worked well and what didn’t. I really like to share what I bake with other people and use them as my guinea pigs.
Stephanie: How did you decide what cookies to offer for Cookies for Good?
Hannah: My husband and I had some brainstorming sessions. We decided we wanted to bake cookies that are enjoyable, but not overly complicated to make, and offer a variety and diversity of flavors. We settled on one fruit (lemon sugar); one nut (peanut butter); one chocolate (chocolate with chocolate chunks, called World Peace Cookies); and one butter (Scotch shortbread).
Stephanie: Does your husband help you in the kitchen?
Hannah: Yes, in fact he chopped all the chocolate for our most recently baked batch of World Peace.
Stephanie: Do you have a favorite cookie?
Hannah: That’s a really tough question and depends on what I’ve eaten most recently. The World Peace Cookies are rich and have a nice texture. I like chocolate raspberry cookies, too. I confess, I have a terrible sweet tooth; I just try to moderate it.
Stephanie: Gather for Good inspired you to turn your love of baking into a fundraising campaign. Where and how else do you find inspiration and hope?
Hannah: I can easily get overwhelmed and feel a lot of self-doubt, but I have an understanding — and my YA cohort has helped me to see this, too — that we have a lot of power collectively, that we can do a whole lot of good in our daily lives in small ways. That helps me feel grounded when I feel like I’m not doing enough.
I try to remember and think about how many good and beautiful things I have had and have, and how many things I have yet to do in my life. During difficult times, I try to reinforce those things.
The views and opinions of our bloggers represent the views and opinions of the bloggers alone and not those of Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Also understand that Living Beyond Breast Cancer does not medically review any information or content contained on, or distributed through, its blog and therefore does not endorse the accuracy or reliability of any such information or content. Through our blog, we merely seek to give individuals creative freedom to tell their stories. It is not a substitute for professional counseling or medical advice.
Sign up to receive emotional support, medical insight, personal stories, and more, delivered to your inbox weekly.