Right after I started working with young women fighting breast cancer, I was talking to a woman I know, though not very well, in Los Angeles. I had contacted her to see if she would attending a non-work event I was organizing, and she said she couldn’t because she was being treated for breast cancer.
I knew from meeting her once before that she was only in her early 30s. So after telling her how sorry I was to hear about her diagnosis, and asking how she was doing, I then told her about my work with SurviveDAT, SurviveMISS and SurviveAL and how our whole focus is on helping young women deal with breast cancer.
She was thrilled. “I’ve gone to some breast cancer support groups here, but all the women tend to be much older than me and we just weren’t talking about the same things.”
That really struck me. Here she was in one the biggest cities in the United States and she couldn’t find a support group that was talking about the issues she faced or where she even felt comfortable. And, as we kept talking, I realized no one had told her that she, as an African American woman, was more likely to get breast cancer young. She hadn’t been told that she might want to consider genetic counseling to see if that information might help the rest of her family (including the men), but might also help her pick out the best course of treatment. And though her doctor had talked about fertility a bit with her, that doctor hadn’t gone into much detail.
And that really got me. This was a young woman, a single professional educator (which made me think she probably liked kids!), and the doctor hadn’t had a straight-talk discussion with her about how to make sure she could have kids one day, if she wanted them.
It’s for those reasons and more, SurviveDAT, SurviveMISS and SurvivaAL were born. All part of the Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network, we’re here to provide the many young women fighting breast cancer down here, online help and support. We do this in three key areas:
- Expert Advice:This is free, 24/7 advice from specialists on questions ranging from what to do when you’re first diagnosed, protecting your fertility and understanding genetics’ role to dealing with treatment side effects, intimacy issues and your rights at work. Go to http://survivemiss.org/expert-advice to learn more.
- Women Like You:Who knows better what you’re going through than women actually going through it? Hear their tips for dealing with everything from metastatic breast cancer to boyfriends and kids, along with their stories, both happy and sad, but always real! http://survivemiss.org/women-like-you
- Find Support:Did you know there are all kinds of resources out there just for you? There’s financial help, counseling for you and the people around you, even places in your area to get the prosthetics and wigs you need, and much more. Check them out here: http://survivemiss.org/find-support
So explore! And be sure to like, follow and share with us on all our social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, so you can keep up with what’s happening with young breast cancer survivors on a regular basis. Remember: We’re here to help and you are not alone.