We all know that it is so difficult to handle a breast cancer diagnosis and face treatment. Even under the best circumstances when family is the pinnacle of supportive, there is rarely something there for you who knows exactly how you feel. Imagine how much more comforting and understanding someone could be who has gone through exactly what you are facing? How would you find such a support system?
I recently found out that The American Cancer Society runs a fantastic outreach program for breast cancer patients called Reach to Recovery. Through this program, breast cancer patients anywhere from the time of diagnosis to any point in their treatment and beyond can call in and be matched with a survivor to talk with. These ‘matches’ as they call them are close in age, circumstance, diagnosis and distance. They are there to be able to empathize and hear the fears and worries of the patient without the questions and overall lack of understanding that sometimes comes when confiding in a family member.
I think that this is a wonderful idea and I wish that I had known more about the program when I was going through treatment. I have decided to become a Reach to Recovery volunteer and attended a training last Saturday. I am glad to have the opportunity to speak with women who are going through breast cancer and do my best to be supportive and offer some hope to them.
I believe that I could have benefitted from this program if only I could have talked with someone closer to my age when I was going through treatment – someone else who had dated through breast cancer and faced the fertility decisions I had to make. I really think it could have helped me feel less alone – less isolated than I already felt, being the only one of my circle of friends to be diagnosed with breast cancer (and thank goodness for that).
During a time of chaos such as diagnosis or treatment, I believe that talking with someone who’s been through a similar experience would be extremely helpful. I hope I am able to offer some comfort to my ‘matches’ in the coming months.