Little did I know when I walked into the Breast Friends office to volunteer back in October where it would take me. I started out as a volunteer and a patient, doing data entry for the hat project while also getting counseling and support, attending Warrior Women Workshop events and a Thrive Beyond Cancer weekend. Every time I walk into the office, I know I am in safe place to talk about my cancer and even complain about it. Yes, the cancer was removed from my breasts, but it has definitely left a deep mark on my life and it is important to me to talk about it and what I am still going through.
Breast Friends is full of survivors, from the founders down to the volunteers, everyone has been on this journey. The women there inspire me to be a better me and to take care of myself first. I am also being asked to utilize my OCD and organizational talents in (now) overseeing the hat project. It means so much to me to feel needed and useful again. One of the most amazing things I get to experience is calling the survivors after we send them a hat. The gratitude in their voices for the hats is wonderful to hear, but they also are so thankful just to have someone to talk to. The amount of support which each woman has varies, but even those with a great support system still want to talk about their journey, the weather, their kids or even chemo sessions. Despite the numerous doctor visits, infusion rooms and visits from loved ones, cancer treatment can be incredibly lonely. Receiving a call out of the blue from a fellow survivor who just wants to know how you are doing can make all the difference, and I get to make those phone calls.
I have also been reading books on breast cancer, including those by the co-founders: Becky Olson’s “The Hat That Saved My Life” and Sharon Henifin’s “Thriving Beyond Cancer.” The books are a must read for those diagnosed with cancer, containing personal stories along with heartfelt wisdom and guidance on moving forward. I laughed and cried as I read them, each with a feel as different as the women who wrote them. At the Breast Friends Survivor Luncheon last fall, I was fortunate enough to meet Lyn Cikara, the author of “Stronger than Cancer: Take Action Today, Beat the Odds and Start Living Your Life Again” which is an incredibly motivational read. All of these books and many more will help me get to the start of writing my own book.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to talk about my experiences with Breast Friends on camera for B-roll which will be edited and used in snippets at the fundraising Gala on May 12, the Survivor Luncheon in October and who knows what else! At first I was nervous, but then I realized I had so much to say about this amazing organization, what they did for me and all of the other women whose lives have been touched by them. Thankfully a few days before the video shoot, I was scheduled to meet friends for lunch. Instead of lunch, they dropped me off at their hairdresser for a much needed “hair intervention” as they called it. I had been ignoring my hair for months and it was an awful shade of grey and dull yellow. A few hours later, I came out newly blonde and ready for my close-up.
The morning of the video shoot, I curled my hair, put on a lot of make-up and headed to the office. I was told where to stand and to just be myself and they would ask me questions to start new topics as needed. When the camera was turned on, they asked me to describe how I came to Breast Friends, what I did there, etc. I started to talk and I don’t think I stopped for 15 minutes. Because you know, I am an oversharer. But really, I believe so strongly in this organization and what they are doing that I can’t say enough about them. Plus, I am going to be famous!