Marilyn: Supporting Other Breast Cancer Survivors

Marilyn: Supporting Other Breast Cancer Survivors

I'm a 19-year breast cancer survivor, and I co-facilitate two SHARE support groups in Queens. These groups help women get the support and information they need to deal with breast cancer. The members are really good about helping each other out -- we all work together, and many members become buddies to other members. When a new person comes, I try to get a feel for what she might need, and that's how I select who's going to be her buddy.

One of the groups I co-facilitate offers educational programs as well as support because we realized that we needed information about treatments, diagnostic tools, insurance, and other health care issues. We all got together and voted on the topics we wanted to learn about, and SHARE sent speakers to present these topics.

The other group I co-facilitate is for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. We focus on proving support and discussing issues that women confront in early treatment, such as how to deal with your time and how to manage the changes in your body.

I call the members between meetings to see what's going on with them. This sort of gives me a guide for what to have as our topic for the next meeting. We also go to events together, like to advocacy conferences.

The group members are very close, and some women stay involved for a long time. Others leave after their treatments are over, but they come back sometimes, especially when they're scheduled for their annual mammograms. Either way, we're here to support them.