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Breast Cancer Awareness: Advice from Survivors

This year, more than 200,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. Once diagnosed, their lives will change forever.  However, some breast cancer survivors are willing to share their secrets in order to minimize the fear and isolation of cancer. 

The fear, the dread, the panic, all of the emotions that follow a diagnosis of breast cancer can overwhelm the toughest of women.

“I was fine,” Lisa Crites told Ivanhoe.

“I thought, ‘this is it, I’m probably going to die now,” Sherry Palmer told Ivanhoe.

“I’ll be okay.  I was like as long as it’s me and not my mom and dad,” Jennifer Batchellor told Ivanhoe.

It’s not just the emotions; there are the doctors’ appointments, the treatment options, and the side-effect, all of which can be a lot to digest.

However, “the physicians are so busy keeping you alive; they miss the pragmatic pieces of advice,” Lisa said.

So, in order to get the pragmatic advice they needed, breast cancer survivors Lisa Crites, Sherry Palmer, and Jennifer Batchellor joined a support group called breast friends.

Their first piece of advice, “I did a lot of physical therapy where you literally walk your hands up and down the wall,” Lisa said.

For Lisa, doing that for a couple weeks built up her strength. Sherry Palmer says surgeons will tell you to sleep in the recliner after surgery.

“You sleep in the recliner. When you’re sick, you want to be in your own bed,” Sherry explained.

So instead, use a wedge pillow.

“It helps with healing. It helps with swelling. It helps with drainage,” Sherry said.

Jennifer Batchellor says that she learned to go out and enjoy the few good days she did have.

“Really take the time to get up, leave the house, go to the mall with your mom, or see a movie with a friend,” Jennifer said.

However, most important thing these ladies say to remember, “people, patients, have got to be psychologically accepting of the choices they make,” Lisa said.

Although cancer patients have long benefited from support groups, they may still have trouble talking about their experiences. Online intervention tools may be a different option.

In a study from the University of California at Los Angeles, researchers found that women with breast cancer who created websites as a way to cope the disease, reported feeling less depressed, more positive, and having a greater appreciation for life. 

BREAST CANCER: 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. (Source: www.WebMD.com)

SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT: 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. (Source: www.WebMD.com)

SUPPORT: 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 group’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. (Source: www.Komen.org)

BREAST FRIENDS:  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.  (Source: http://www.breastfriends.org/about-us/)


For More Information, Contact:


Sherry Palmer

Program Director/Survivor

Breast Friends



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