Partner Spotlight: Lynn Erdman and Carolina Breast Friends

January 2021

Situated on the pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined East Morehead Street, resides a sanctuary that has worked with more than 2000 Charlotte- based breast cancer survivors.  It is known as The Pink House and happens to be home to Carolina Breast Friends where Executive Director Lynn Erdman spends her days building partnerships and programs while simultaneously supporting survivors.

"The opportunities and experiences I've had have helped me expand Carolina Breast Friends," she says.  This makes sense as she's spent more than 25 years in the nonprofit and healthcare sectors.  

Before her career began, Erdman knew she wanted to be in the field of helping others.  Sound advice from a biology teacher led her down the path of nursing.  Upon graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Erdman spent six months as a neonatal intensive care nurse at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte when she was asked to move into the oncology unit.  After spending four years working with patients and families battling cancer, Erdman realized she found her niche.  

Erdman obtained a graduate degree in oncology nursing and returned back to Presbyterian hospital to serve as their first clinical nurse specialist.  She went on to become the founding Director of Presbyterian Cancer Center and was eventually recruited by Atrium Health to do similar work.  Erdman's experience continued to grow in her key senior, national leadership positions with the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, The American College of Surgeons, and Association of Women's Health, and Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, where she served as CEO.  

After years of extensive travel, speaking engagements and volunteering, Erdman happily brought her talents back to Charlotte.  A PMA Consulting Search Advisory project brought Erdman and Carolina Breast Friends together, and PMA has also enjoyed board engagement and strategic planning work with CBF as well.  Because The Pink House supports breast cancer survivors at every stage of the journey from diagnosis to treatment to recovery, Erdman was well equipped to not only lead, but grow the work happening there. 

Pre-Covid, all of the programming at The Pink House included over 30 monthly education and wellness sessions.  When the pandemic occurred, Erdman immediately transitioned everything to the world of Zoom and made several eye-opening discoveries.  She realized they could expand their reach to survivors across the country,  people wanted and needed the connection (regardless of a virtual experience), people enjoyed connecting from the comfort of their own homes.  Post-Covid, they will continue to reach a broader audience through the use of a virtual platform.  

In an effort to maintain the appeal of The Pink House, Erdman says they've reopened to offer one-on-one sessions including fascial stretch therapy and oncology massage.  Erdman proudly notes that they were still able to host a socially distanced version of their annual Thankful Feast.  They spread out all 50 guests amongst six-foot tables that were six feet apart.  One person sat on each end of the table wearing a mask.  Masks were only removed while they were eating.  In the end they gathered around in circle with masks on and expressed what they were thankful for.  "It's just so special, especially for people who are going through cancer, who don't know what their timeframe looks like, to have support from other survivors that are living in the same world they are," states Erdman.

As if all of the work Erdman has done weren't enough, she currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Duke University School of Nursing and she serves on the Board of Trustees for William Peace University. 

One might say that Erdman's labor has come full circle and as she explains, "very rewarding."  "I get to see survivors every day.  It's kind of back to where my heart is.  I feel good every day when I go home.  I feel totally blessed," she says.