“When am I a survivor?” Is it after I’m diagnosed? Is it when I’ve finished all my treatment? Is it on my one- year, three-year or five-year anniversary?” Though Breast Friends has not put together a written statement on when that exact moment occurs, I think we all can agree that it is personal to each of us. All stories…
~ Featured Story ~
In January 2012, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. When the Race for the Cure came that September, I really took it symbolically. I was so looking forward to crossing that finish line, finishing the race, putting this behind me and moving on. But when the next day came, I still felt like cancer was right in my face, no matter how hard I screamed crossing that finish line. I was “stuck” and didn’t know how to get out, or where to turn for help. I had been searching for support groups in my area but found nothing.
I saw a booth at the Komen Health Fair called “Breast Friends”. What was this all about? They asked me a few questions about where I was in the process of fighting this disease. I will never forget what happened next, it was like they crawled into my thoughts and started speaking them back to me. “You’re not going to weekly doctor’s appointments anymore but you’re not sure what to do next. You’ve been to war and you’re just now looking at all you’ve gone through because in battle you don’t have time to think about everything that’s going on. Now you have feelings that are coming to the surface and you don’t know what to do with them. Are you feeling like you should “be over it” by now? Everyone else looks at you like you’re through with it, right? And even though you’ve had love and support around you, you don’t really feel like anyone “gets” what you’ve gone through.” All I kept saying was, “Yes, yes, and YES!” How did they know? They were survivors too and they were speaking my language. Where has this group been all this time? Soon I had a whole group of breast friend’s volunteers surrounding me. It was like I didn’t have to say a thing. I just looked in their eyes and realized that they know how I feel and they get it! It was so refreshing, like a huge sigh of relief. My feelings were normal and I was not going crazy.
Sharon, the co-founder of Breast Friends was there too and she told me about an upcoming retreat for survivors called, “Thriving Beyond Cancer”. Boy that sounded like what I needed but to go on a retreat with no one I knew, for a whole weekend of talking about all that’s inside me right now, sounded very scary. Here’s the thing, I was so desperate for help and wanted to move on so badly, that I signed up. And guess what? It was AMAZING and just what I needed. Sharon takes you through a specific process that really does help you move on, dream again, make plans, get “UN-STUCK”. We also recognize what cancer has taken from us and grieve those things, which is an important part of the process too. But what a better place to do that than surrounded by other women going through exactly what you’re going through. No need to explain a thing, they get it. It was so empowering that it made me want to reach out to women in my own community. I didn’t want anyone going through this alone. Now I’m facilitating a Breast Friends Girls Nite Out support group serving East County. I keep hearing from the women I meet, that they are so thankful that they found a group like this in their area, that meeting with other survivors is so comforting and helpful. We don’t need to go through this alone! I am thankful to Breast Friends for their commitment to the women and families that are touched by this. This journey is a process and I’m still in it, but I know where I can find some “Breast Friends” when I need it. THANK YOU BREAST FRIENDS!