Diane George: 35-Year SHARE Volunteer

diane_george 40_for_40

When and how did you get involved with SHARE?

Approximately 35 years ago, my surgeon, Eugene Thiessen, told me about SHARE. Blanche Green, secretary of SHARE, invited me to a meeting at NYU. There were over 50 women in the room--animated, vital women, living their lives. I had never before met a woman who had breast cancer who was still living. My mother died of the disease, and my father died of bladder cancer seven months before I was diagnosed. I decided that moment, I was going to live every minute I had like these women were doing.

In what ways have you been involved with SHARE?

Lee Miller took me under her wing and trained me to be a facilitator. Over the years, I facilitated just about every type of group SHARE offered: newly diagnosed, young women, friends and family, ongoing and more. These were the early years, and those of us who were involved did lots of different things. I was a board member for many years and served as vice president. During that time I represented SHARE at health fairs, found space for us to have our meetings, spoke to health care personnel and doctors at NYU, was part of three TV programs, conducted information and wellness meetings, and spoke to women on the helpline.

Alex Colon and I advocated for an outreach program for underserved communities in the city. I also trained facilitators at Harlem Hospital, Restoration Plaza, and Astoria, Queens. As more women came to us, I trained women to become facilitators for all the new groups. At one time nearly every board member and facilitator had been through one of the groups I led. I also went to Reading, Pennsylvania, and trained about 10 women to start their own groups.

As more and more wonderful and competent women became part of running SHARE and my personal work became more demanding, I began to step away, but I never left SHARE for long. In recent times, I have trained facilitators as needed. I joined Lee Miller on the Side by Side project and worked on creating the Side by Side manual. I've also attended several workshops at Stamford Hospital and NYU.

How has SHARE helped you?

At my second SHARE meeting, my facilitator was lifting chairs from one side of the table to the other. I had had 36 nodes removed as well as my minor pectoral muscle, leaving my arm barely mobile. Seeing her made me believe that I could regain strength, too. And I did, with the women of SHARE showing me the way, until the cancer went on the back burner and I became myself again.

What is your 40th anniversary wish for SHARE?

My wish for SHARE is that I will see the day when we are no longer needed because breast and ovarian cancer will be cured.

See all the 40 for 40 series posts here!