“You have breast cancer.” The words hang in the air in the sterile coldness of an examination room. The first reaction is often disbelief; the second, “Am I going to survive? What do I do now?”
Once a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she usually has very little time—often just two weeks—to make a treatment decision. That’s 14 days to cope with the news, research options, fit in doctor’s appointments, and figure out who will take care of her family and job during treatment and recovery. Now there is a place where women with early-stage breast cancer can find a new level of support and open arms from those who’ve been through it before.
Voices of MammoSite is a new program supported by a website (www.VoicesofMammoSite.com) devoted to connecting newly diagnosed women with a network of extraordinary survivors who have confronted the challenges of breast cancer—specifically those who have fought it successfully with MammoSite® 5-Day Targeted Radiation Therapy. At the site, visitors can read and listen to personal stories of breast cancer survivors, find a survivor of similar age and background who is willing to share her own experiences with breast cancer treatment and personally connect with her within 48 hours.
Available mentors include Donna, a 66-year-old retired nurse from Kentucky; Linda, a 58-year-old financial planner from Illinois; Carmen, a 47-year-old accountant from Arizona; and dozens more. They’re women of all ages and ethnicities, from all over the U.S., who have one thing in common—they all successfully battled early-stage breast cancer and have volunteered to share their experiences with other women.
“When women are first diagnosed with breast cancer, the amount of information they are presented with and the decisions they have to make in a short time can be very overwhelming. The whole experience can seem clinical and impersonal,” says Jamie Gray, program coordinator for Voices of MammoSite. “Being able to personally connect with someone who has already been through the experience can make such a difference and reduce the stress and anxiety involved.”
Perhaps no one understands this better than Gray herself. She lost her mother to breast cancer at age 48 and her aunt at 28. Two other aunts are breast cancer survivors, and she herself is aware that she is genetically at high risk for the disease.
As the traditional caretakers of the family, many women juggle jobs, family, the running of households, and other responsibilities and often don’t want their loved ones to worry about them, says Gray. “The Voices of MammoSite program helps them find another woman who has been through it all, with whom they can communicate openly about their questions and fears.”
The matching of patients and survivors is done via a private messaging system for registered site users only and they can choose to be contacted by email or phone. Or, interested women can be connected directly to a Voices of MammoSite volunteer via a live program coordinator at (877) 566-9866. Site visitors can also learn about local breast cancer awareness and fundraising events in which they can participate and meet other patients and survivors. They can also support each other and share their progress via a special private listserv and can send mammogram reminder e-cards to female relatives and friends.
One in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. Those who are not are almost certain to be in close contact with a relative, friend or co-worker who will battle the disease. While great strides have been made in the treatment of breast cancer over the past two decades, many women remain uninformed about new options available today. Or, while their doctors may have informed them about treatment alternatives, they may not know any other women who have successfully undergone specific treatments and what their experiences were like.
Whether a breast cancer diagnosis is delivered in an examination room, over a crackling cell phone connection or to an anxious patient asked to “please wait to talk to the doctor,” after a routine mammogram, women today must become advocates for their own healthcare, says Gray. “Voices of MammoSite gives them the chance to do just that. It empowers women by addressing their diagnosis head-on and giving them the one-on-one support and information they need at a critical time. It also gives breast cancer survivors an outlet and an opportunity to give back.”
For more information, please visit www.VoicesofMammoSite.com