Hi, I’m Kristy and I know nothing about cancer…that was me interviewing for a job at a cancer non-profit 15 years ago. I was fresh out of graduating with my master's in social work and had worked briefly in some hospitals. I knew I loved the medical world, and I knew I loved social work and didn’t know how these would go together. The person interviewing me assured me I’d learn everything I needed to know to be an oncology social worker. Suspicious of her statement, I went along with it because well, I needed a job…what I didn’t know at that time was that accepting this job would change my life. Upon accepting this position, I quickly started reading memoirs of people who had cancer and not only started to understand what people dealt with medically, but psychologically…and then I met Jamie*.
Jamie had come to me because she had a new diagnosis of TNBC. This was 15 years ago and TNBC had very limited information and was a relatively new area of research. Jamie was devastated by this diagnosis and was struggling to cope with it. My job was to help her cope with it. After a lot of treatment, she was diagnosed with a recurrence and now had brain metastasis. It was a pivotal moment in my career where I felt the imposter syndrome surface and thought “how can I possibly offer anything to this person that will help her”? I learned quickly that my training as a “helping professional” meant a lot of different things. Helping no longer meant “make this person feel better” …it meant witness, listen and help them make sense of their feelings. It meant sitting with her in grief and fear. It meant guiding her in finding meaning and purpose with her life, no matter what was ahead. It meant accompanying her on facing the realities of what can happen when someone gets this diagnosis. I still think about Jamie and how much of an imprint she left on me. She set in motion a career that focused on advocating and supporting people with metastatic breast cancer. One thing I learned from Jamie was that having brain mets can be isolating, challenging and ultimately is an underrepresented and underserved community within the metastatic breast cancer world. SHARE wants to change that.
The goal of this group is to ensure you have the support that you need and deserve. We are doing this by having both peer and professional support available for this group. I don’t claim to know what it is like to live with metastatic breast cancer with brain mets, but my co-facilitator and your peer, Lianne does. What I do know as a professional is how to help people face and navigate tough, sensitive issues, teach and educate people on coping strategies, connect themes and ensure a safe, respectful, honest and compassionate space.
We hope to see you on Thursday, May 25th for our first Breast Cancer Brain Mets Support Group. The group will run from 3-4pm ET every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month.
*name changed to protect privacy
Breast Cancer Brain Mets Support Group