HealthWACH: Advice from survivors



The most common cancer and second most common cancer leading to death is breast cancer. This typically aggressive cancer usually develops in women who have a family history of breast cancer or who carry the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene. Women over the age of 50 are the most common to develop breast cancer, but some women have developed the cancer between ages 39-49. Some of the more common symptoms can include:

  • a lump in the breast or armpit

  • pain in breast

  • discharge from nipple

  • changes in size

Most treatments are done with surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and biological therapy to destroy the cancer and prevent it from returning.

With all of the stress and anxiety that breast cancer patients undergo, it is vital that they receive support not only from family and friends, but from outside resources as well. Support groups offer relief to those who are starting to feel the effects from depression and they bring hope to patients. A support groupâ??s focus may vary from informational to emotional, but they have the same goal: to lend a hand and make women and men feel comfortable about their current situation. There are 24/7 hotlines and even online support groups where men and women can log into their account and chat with survivors, doctors, and other patients..

Breast Friends is one support group that helps women with breast cancer. It is a nonprofit organization that teaches friends and family specific ways to offer support and help them understand what their loved one is going through. In 2004, Breast Friends received its first grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Komen partnered with Breast Friends in 2005, inviting them to chair their Co-Survivor Initiative in Oregon at Race for the Cure, a position Breast Friends held for over five years. It was founded in 2000 in Oregon and now has two other affiliates, one in Florida and one in Pennsylvania.