Meet a Breast Cancer Helpline Volunteer: Chandra

Meet a Breast Cancer Helpline Volunteer: Chandra

1. Why did you decide to be a SHARE Breast Cancer Helpline volunteer?

I know first-hand how empathy combined with care and knowledge can ease some of the challenges breast cancer brings. A SHARE support group connected me with women who could candidly speak about their experiences and relate in ways no internet research or doctors' appointments could. Those open conversations got me through my diagnosis and surgeries! I learned so much from the group, from individuals, and from SHARE webinars. I also would like to be a resource for other LGBTQI+ people navigating breast cancer.

2. What do you like most about being a Helpline volunteer?

I appreciated the vulnerability it takes for people to reach out and tell their stories. I have been very moved by the grace with which my mentor communicates support and information to her callers. I also enjoy the medical research and learning that are essential to be of help.

3. When were you diagnosed and what was your diagnosis?

I was diagnosed with intermediate grade DCIS in March 2020. I had a bilateral mastectomy with expanders and then implants.

4. In addition to volunteering for SHARE, what do you do for work?

I work in publishing as the photo director of an art magazine and teach photography. I am also an artist.

5. What do you do for fun?

Typically, I go to art galleries and museums, but I just got back from a trip backpacking, hiking, and kayaking. It was a great way to celebrate my surgery
anniversary. I'm very grateful to be able to be active again. My (unexpected) pandemic/recovery hobby was bird watching.

6. What did you learn about yourself while going through your breast cancer experience?

I was a breast cancer caregiver for my stepmother in 2018 which taught me how to access some inner resources around sensitivity, grounding myself,
and loss. When I was diagnosed, it was a non-linear process/cycle of holding all the worries and holding a broader perspective. And it was hard to learn
how to accept help.

7. What priorities did you have before and after?

My partner and family have become even more important to me. My family couldn't be with me during the whole process due to Covid protocols, yet their
support was so strong. I have a more profound appreciation for my body and it's capacity to heal now. I prioritize healthy boundaries far more than
before breast cancer.