Kathy Hynes-Kadish has been a dedicated volunteer at SHARE for 21 years, facilitating support groups and answering Helpline calls to be an anchor for those struggling with a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. As she moves onto her newest endeavors, we want to thank her for her tireless dedication!
- Why did you decide to become a SHARE Breast Cancer Facilitator?
It is an interesting story because I never actually thought I would facilitate another group! I was a clinical social worker who facilitated many groups in the hospital and in my private practice. However, when I was diagnosed in 1999 with Metastatic Breast Cancer I gave up my private practice and began weekly chemotherapy treatments.
My prognosis was frightening and uncertain, and my oncology nurse at NYU recommended that I attend SHARE’S in-person metastatic group, facilitated by Roberta Hufnagel, LCSW, at the time. I participated in the group for many years and was doing well. I was asked to be a metastatic peer, and I worked on the SHARE Helpline for a number of years.
SHARE’S Executive Director at that time, Alice Yager, wanted all of SHARE’S groups to be facilitated by a peer. The Metastatic Group was facilitated by a breast cancer survivor, who was also a social worker. Twenty years ago women/men with metastatic breast cancer didn’t live long enough or feel strong enough to facilitate a support group. I agreed to do a monthly group for 6 months, and the rest is history.
2. What did you like most about being a Facilitator?
Being a facilitator has given me an opportunity to give back to SHARE and to the metastatic community. I remember how frightened and uncertain I felt after receiving the metastatic diagnosis, and SHARE and Roberta were my saviors and lifeline. The most important and valuable part of being a facilitator is seeing the support the members give to one another.
The women are the heart and soul of the group. Despite the fact that they are under immense physical and emotional stress, they reach out to one another with kindness, support and a wealth of knowledge. They heal and help one another, which was the greatest part of being a facilitator.
3. When were you diagnosed and what was your diagnosis?
Initially, in 1997, I was diagnosed with Stage 1, ER+ invasive breast cancer and received chemotherapy, radiation and tamoxifen. In 1999, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to my liver and peritoneum. The cancer mutated and it was HER2+. In 1999, this diagnosis was considered extremely serious as Herceptin was just FDA-approved and the outcomes were unknown. My treatment was weekly Taxol and Herceptin.
4. What do you do for fun?
I have been studying Italian for many years to keep my brain active. I love to travel to Italy and cook Italian food. I’m a decent skier and ski with family and friends in Massachusetts, Vermont, and out West every winter.
5. What did you learn about yourself while going through your breast cancer experience?
I learned to be more forgiving to myself and try to appreciate what I have and what I’ve accomplished. I try to take care of myself first when possible, and to set boundaries with family and friends who are not understanding. And finally, I try to be kinder and appreciate everyday.
6. What priorities did you have before and after?
My priorities before were working too much and putting others’ needs before my own.
7. Any other insights that you want to share?
SHARE and the people who work at SHARE have made me a kinder and nicer person, and I thank SHARE for helping me and so many others.