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A group of longtime Clear Lake friends has played on softball, bowling, volleyball and golf teams for decades, so when one of them was diagnosed with cancer, there was no question they’d be fighting it together.

Eileen Miller, who had mammograms annually since she was 30, was diagnosed with breast cancer on Dec. 26, 2008, after her images revealed the clustering of calcifications in her right breast.

After she was diagnosed, she turned to her friends who supported her through the subsequent lumpectomy surgery and radiation treatment.

“I have good friends,” said Miller, not a cancer survivor. “I really do.”

In 2009, the women organized a group called “Buddies for Boobies” to raise money for breast cancer in hopes of helping North Iowa women like Miller.

Within the past decade, the group has raised more than $20,000 for the American Cancer Society, MercyOne North Iowa Cancer Center, My Happy Haven and area women through an annual fundraiser.

This year marks the “Buddies for Boobies” 10th annual breast cancer fundraiser featuring a silent auction and bake sale.

“We just wanted to do something to help,” said Wendie Coyier, “Buddies for Boobies” treasurer. “It’s just kind of grown from there.”

The women raised about $400 their first year during a small event at Rumorz Bar & Grill in Clear Lake, but in the years — and locations — since, it’s grown to an event featuring at least 60 silent auction baskets, 100 gift certificates and a bake sale with dozens of breads, cookies and cupcakes, including gluten-free and sugar-free options, with much credit to the volunteers, donors and event-goers.

This year’s event, which is promoted with pink signs and fliers throughout Clear Lake, will take place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. June 15 at The Other Place, 200 U.S. 18, in Clear Lake.

Miller, the group’s president, said “Buddies for Boobies” stopped donating to national organizations more than five years ago because it wanted its funds to remain local.

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“We wanted to help the people in our area,” she said.

The past two years, it has given money from the fundraiser to My Happy Haven, a nonprofit community-based organization that provides women journeying through cancer a bedroom makeover within a 30-mile radius of Mason City.

Proceeds from the “Buddies for Boobies” fundraiser have also purchased Breastology bags, an interactive tool that educates individuals about breast self-examination techniques and findings that have been used at schools throughout the area.

The group has donated gas cards, grocery gift certificates and more to local women with breast cancer.

“The looks on their faces, just fills your heart,” said Dora Gould, “Buddies for Boobies” secretary. "It's so worth it."

“Buddies for Boobies” comprises nine members: Miller, Coyier, Dora Gould, Sandy Brood, Toni Gould, Linda Kemmerer, Shannon Keller, Brenda Terwilliger and Christa Terwilliger.

Individuals with breast cancer, or family and friends of someone with breast cancer, may request assistance from “Buddies for Boobies” by filling out an application at the group’s website: www.buddiesforboobies.weebly.com.

“It’s been a good cause for us to do,” Coyier said. “We get a lot of satisfaction from helping people.”

For more information about “Buddies for Boobies” and its upcoming fundraiser, follow its Facebook page leading up to the event.

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Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.

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