Why did you decide to be a SHARE Breast Cancer Helpline volunteer?
I became a SHARE Volunteer because SHARE helped me through my cancer journey and kept me sane. I went to a SHARE support group two days after my diagnosis (because my doctor at the time told me not to. Ha!). That was the best decision I ever made.
What do you like most about being a Helpline volunteer?
I continue volunteering because it helps me to help others. I have been a volunteer for SHARE for over a decade.
When were you diagnosed and what was your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed with DCIS in 2005. It was over a very large area so I had to have a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery.
Where are you now, as far as your breast cancer “journey?”
I am cancer free at this time. I still have mammograms on my remaining breast.
In addition to volunteering for SHARE, what else do you do? What do you (or did you) do for work?
I was a patient navigator for newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients at a New York hospital. I met many newly-diagnosed women and that helped me through the journey immensely. I facilitated two support groups, one in the hospital and one at SHARE. Through SHARE, I took all three Lead programs and reviewed grants for the DoD program, as well as the California grant program. I was the SWOG (SouthWest Oncology Group) breast advocate for three years. I was offered a job at SHARE that I could not take at the time....a job that I have regretted not taking many times.
What do you do for fun?
For fun, I spend time in nature, enjoying the mountains, and my dog Grace. I also enjoy cooking and gardening.
What did you learn about yourself while going through your breast cancer experience?
The two biggest things that I learned through my journey is that I am stronger than I thought I was, and that life is short and should be enjoyed to the fullest.
What priorities did you have before and after?
Women tend to be caregivers for everyone else and put ourselves last, and I was no different. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I learned that I had to put myself first.
Any other insights that you want to share?
What SHARE gives and does for others is amazing. Trying to get through a breast cancer diagnosis alone is awful. Giving to others at SHARE keeps me sane and focused. SHARE has given me hope when I was hopeless, educated me when I needed to learn, and showed me that there is life after cancer. I can’t thank SHARE and its wonderful volunteers enough....I owe a lot to SHARE.