When and how did you get involved with SHARE?
In 1999, when I was diagnosed with metastatic disease, I was having a difficult time. A friend of mine knew Roberta Hufnagle, who facilitated SHARE's metastatic support group. Roberta called me, and I ended up attending her metastatic group. I kept coming, and over time, it became a lifeline. We were a group of women who were in similar positions and of similar age, and it was a very cohesive group. Eventually Roberta recommended that I start working on SHARE's Helpline as a peer for callers with metastatic breast cancer. I did this from home, and then in 2001, we started taking metastatic calls from the office, so I began working there on the helpline.
In what ways have you been involved with SHARE?
After four years, I applied for Project Lead and began leading SHARE's Living with Uncertainty group. But Project Lead suggests that after you complete it, you should create something new. So after attending a Metastatic Breast Cancer Network meeting, I had the idea for a conference on metastatic breast cancer. That conference spawned a breakout group for spouses of women with mets, which then became the caregiver group at SHARE. I now also act as the SHARE social worker handling caregiver calls. Later on, I was also asked to run a monthly metastatic group, which I did for many years. And now, I'm working with Christine Benjamin doing helpline training and running the Support the Supporter group for people who work for SHARE. I also cover the metastatic daytime group.
How has SHARE helped you?
SHARE allowed me to meet extraordinary women who helped me in the beginning to sort everything out and feel less overwhelmed. I had given up my job when I was diagnosed, so SHARE became my new work. I was so grateful. I wanted to give back, and it's given me a purpose again.
What is your 40th anniversary wish for SHARE?
That we can continue to grow and expand our programs, and extend trainings for the volunteers and leaders.