What do Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Adam Levine have in common?

The answer is…YSC!  No, I am not kidding!

We Can Survive Performers

From left to right: Katy Perry, Adam Levine and Taylor Swift.

Three years ago, CBS Radio created a charity benefit concert called “We Can Survive” and they chose YSC as the beneficiary of their generosity. I am thrilled to announce that they are doing it again this year! Over the past two years, CBS Radio has generously donated $150,000 in proceeds from the concert to support young women affected by breast cancer.

YSC Chief Development Officer, Jenna Glazer, Katy Perry and YSC CEO Jennifer Merschdorf at the 2013 concert.

YSC Chief Development Officer, Jenna Glazer, Katy Perry and YSC CEO Jennifer Merschdorf at the 2013 concert.

In 2013, YSC young survivors stood on the stage before Katy Perry performed to help raise awareness that young women can and do get breast cancer. Katy was joined by Sara Bareilles, Ellie Goulding, Tegan & Sara and Kacey Musgraves.

In 2014, YSC applauded performers Taylor Swift, Pharrel, Iggy Azalea, Airana Grande, Lady Antebellum, Paramore, Sia and Gwen Stefani for their commitment to YSC and all young breast cancer survivors

And in 2015… well, you will have to wait and see! The concert is October 24 at the historic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

YSC State Leader Amanda Nixon, Pharrell and YSC CEO, Jennifer Merschdorf at the 2014 concert.

YSC State Leader Amanda Nixon, Pharrell and YSC CEO, Jennifer Merschdorf at the 2014 concert.


Wanna go? You have a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip! Thanks to Oakley, YSC is having a contest for two free VIP tickets, roundtrip airfare and hotel for a young breast cancer survivor and her guest. How cool is that?

Enter to win and PASS IT ON!! Make sure you register before October 7, 2015. We’ll notify the contest winner on October 9, 2015.

Here is the FULL LINE UP for the 2015 concert: 5 Second of Summer, Calvin Harris, Demi Lovato, Maroon 5, Nick Jonas, Sam Smith, and The Weeknd…. What?!?!?!?! Awesome. Ticket sales open to the general public through Ticketmaster on Friday, Sept. 25 at 10:00AM, PT.


Check out the official concert site!  YSC is honored to be a part of this amazing event, and we thank CBS Radio for their continued dedication to raising awareness that young women can and do get breast cancer! See you in Hollywood!





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Categories: YSC SYNC - Survivors

Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer as a Young Woman

A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) was the last thing I expected. I was a busy wife and dedicated mother to my seven-year-old daughter. I was the family breadwinner, working as a network engineer in Seattle’s fast-paced technology industry in 2006.

At age 36, breast cancer wasn’t on my radar. I discovered a lump, but physicians assured me I was too young to have breast cancer and it was likely an infection. Months later, following a biopsy, I was shocked to be diagnosed with MBC.

While in chemotherapy, I heard about Young Survival Coalition (YSC) from my oncology nurses. I was hesitant to attend a YSC support group, for fear I might frighten other early-stage members, but they welcomed me with open arms and I soon discovered it was equally important for early-stage survivors to see us MBC girls living and thriving with chronic illness.


YSC’s Metastatic Navigator offer critical resources and support to young women living with metastatic breast cancer.

I became an active volunteer for YSC and was honored to review and provide feedback on their new Metastatic Navigator: A Young Woman’s Guide to Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer. This is the guide I wish was available when I was first diagnosed 10 years ago, because it’s full of important information for those living with MBC. It’s designed to empower young women to be their own best health advocates, while connecting them to a network of support.

The comprehensive guide contains the most up-to-date information on metastatic breast
cancer including: treatment options; quality of life issues; communicating with healthcare providers, family and friends about the disease; questions to ask or consider; and resources available for additional assistance. Other topics include: hospice; palliative care; the decision to end treatment; legal decisions and other information for end-of-life planning; legacy projects; speaking to children about metastatic breast cancer; complementary and alternative medicine; adoption and fertility.

Today, my focus has shifted to finding balance and sustainability for myself and my loved ones as I seek to pace myself through long-term treatment. While we ultimately need a cure for MBC, there is good news on the horizon and remarkable advances being made in treatments that are changing the landscape of our prognosis. We are starting to use words like “chronic disease” instead of “terminal disease,” and we are seeing many women, myself included, who are far outliving our initial dire prognosis and rapidly changing the outcome of future statistics.

If you are not already a part of the YSC community, I encourage you to consider it. We are committed in heart and soul to making your journey as comfortable as possible, while helping you navigate through the many questions and fears you’re experiencing. We come together in communal support to share our experiences and lean on each other through periods of grief and loss, as well as celebrate moments of thriving in optimistic possibility. Your fellow survivors are your sisters and we understand the uniqueness of your situation like no one else can.

You are not alone.

In harmony,

Katie Hogan, living with MBC since 2006

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Angelina Jolie Pitt Takes Control of Her Health and You Can, Too


Dr. Corinne Menn, board-certified gynecologist and young breast cancer survivor.

All of us have heard the news about Angelina Jolie Pitt choosing to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as a means of preventing ovarian cancer.

Angelina Jolie’s message was “choose what’s right for you,” and the experts agree. She says, “It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue. You can seek advice, learn about the options and make choices that are right for you. Knowledge is power.”

I couldn’t agree more. YSC strongly believes and encourages young women to know their bodies, advocate for their own health and persist in asking questions if something doesn’t seem right. It is critical that young women make decisions based on the most current, evidence-based information available; ask questions and feel empowered to get a second opinion!

I applaud Angelina’s frankness and honesty in sparking a discussion in the media that must continue to spread around the world…young women CAN and DO get breast cancer!

Something else I appreciated was that Angelina highlighted the importance and impact of this experience on her co-survivor, Brad Pitt. This truly acknowledges the importance of co-survivors in our journeys! My favorite quote from the Op-ed is, “The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.” Every young woman diagnosed with breast cancer and her co-survivor knows EXACTLY what she means.

To gain a deeper and more personal perspective than mine, YSC spoke with Dr. Corinne Menn. Dr. Menn is a board-certified gynecologist and a young breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed at age 28, only six weeks after losing her mother to ovarian cancer.

Although Dr. Menn’s initial test came back negative for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutations, she chose to undergo a bilateral mastectomy to prevent the future recurrence of breast cancer. Several years later, she had a prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophrectomy (BSO) – the same procedure Angelina underwent – to prevent ovarian cancer.

YSC: Tell us your thoughts after reading the Op-ed by Angelina Jolie Pitt and subsequent news coverage.  Is this procedure “news” and do you think it should cause concern for healthy young women?

Dr. Menn: I’m glad to see that Angelina brings light to this women’s health issue. I particularly like that she notes that “health choices are a part of life not to be feared.” It’s important for patients to be aware of their health choices and not to be afraid of them.

Those who are at-risk are afraid to know whether they are BRCA positive or not, even if they are breast cancer survivors.  The main fear I hear is about the physical implications of knowing. The belief that, “if I’m BRCA positive, I must have surgery,” is false.  There are many choices that come along with being high risk. You must weigh your options and make the choice that is right for you and your family. The more information you have, the more empowered you will be.

YSC: How do women know if they should or shouldn’t be tested for BRCA?

Dr. Menn: There are excellent guidelines and risk assessment questionnaires that help clinicians decide who should receive BRCA testing. In the past, the threshold was higher and testing wasn’t routinely discussed or offered to patients. Doctors shouldn’t test everyone, but everyone should have a conversation about their family history with their doctors at least every few years, or as their family history changes. One thing to note is that if patients had the test before 2012, it may not have been screened for a mutation in a large rearrangement of the gene, also know as the (BART) test, which accounts for a small percentage of mutation problems in BRCA-positive patients.

My mother died of ovarian cancer at 54, only six weeks before I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  After my chemotherapy treatments were done, I was tested for BRCA. I was negative, but it didn’t sit right with me, given my family history. I decided to pursue a bilateral mastectomy and treat myself as being BRCA positive.

Through my practice, I became more knowledgeable about BRCA and asked to add the BART sequence as a part of my testing. Guess what? It turns out I am BRCA 2 positive. Not only am I positive, but my brother, maternal aunt, and cousin are all BRCA 2 positive, too. It is amazing how this one piece of information has impacted my family.

I hear stories all the time from patients who were either not offered the test or were tested prior to 2012, when the comprehensive gene analysis became standard. I have made it my practice to ask women when they were tested and to follow up on the BART test if it was not included.

YSC: Please share with us what considerations and options you had to think about before choosing to undergo the BSO procedure at age 34.

Dr. Menn: It was a hard and emotional decision because it means closing the door on becoming pregnant and because, particularly as a gynecologist, I knew what early menopause meant for me.  On the other hand, I had survived cancer once and experienced the untimely death of my mother. I wanted to be there for my children and husband, and ultimately the benefits of protecting myself from the recurrence of breast cancer and ovarian cancer outweighed the downside of early menopause and everything that comes along with it. Even if you are not BRCA positive, it is very likely insurance will cover the BSO procedure, if it is being done appropriately based on genetic factors and risk factors.

YSC: What are some things to consider concerning family planning when deciding if/when to have the procedure? Should someone be BRCA positive or be high risk due to their family history?

Dr. Menn: Many people don’t know this, but emerging studies show that with the BRCA 1 gene, your risk of ovarian cancer comes at an earlier age. We recommend that if you are deciding to undergo the BSO procedure and you’re BRCA 1 positive, that you have it done once you are done childbearing or before the age of 35, whichever comes first.

For those testing positive for BRCA 2, the risk of ovarian cancer comes later in life and you could wait until the age of 40 to undergo a BSO.  There is also emerging evidence that ovarian cancer starts in the fallopian tubes.  Therefore, some patients are choosing to do their BSO in a two-step process by removing their fallopian tubes first and keeping their ovaries until fertility is not an issue.

There are many options to consider, and women don’t need to make a decision right away. Once a woman decides to have the surgery, there are many health risks to consider. Make sure to push the clinicians to give the appropriate options and treatments that must be considered when removing one’s ovaries, namely for treating early menopause.

YSC: Could you tell us more about the side effects of early menopause? Is there anything breast cancer survivors can do to alleviate them?

Dr. Menn: Immediate surgical menopause comes with many side effects. I see many patients who are not aware of treatments for menopause. Patients need to ask their doctors about how they will manage the side effects before having any procedure done. Often, doctors will tell their patients to “just deal with it; it’s menopause,” which is totally unacceptable.

Some side effects include insomnia, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, vaginal dryness and mood changes.  The approach to menopause varies widely, but there are many non-hormonal things like lifestyle changes and holistic options that can work. It depends on the patient, but I recommend many non-hormonal treatments for breast cancer survivors.

Valerian root is really helpful in treating insomnia. There are great herbal formulations available for hot flashes.  I recommend a local vaginal estrogen, even in breast cancer survivors, to help with vaginal dryness and sexual dysfunction. Coconut oil is also a great natural option. For those who have never been diagnosed with breast cancer, there are many options such as the estrogen patch, progestin IUD and oral progesterone.

YSC: As a young breast cancer survivor, please share your experiences with YSC.

Dr. Menn: I found Young Survival Coalition (YSC) when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28 and it was my absolute lifeline. YSC gave me hope and made me feel like I was not alone. YSC immediately connected me with other survivors who had already gone through treatment, and their support was invaluable.

I remember going in to receive chemo and being the only young person in the waiting room. I felt like everyone was looking at me and feeling sorry for me. It was very isolating.  When I found YSC, I no longer felt alone. I have met so many wonderful young women as a result, some of whom are now lifelong friends.

The silver lining to breast cancer has been my involvement in YSC— from riding the Tour de Pink, to attending In Living Pink, to now leading the Westchester County Face 2 Face group. Breast cancer and being BRCA positive has led me to dedicate much of my practice to helping other survivors deal with their unique female health issues.

Thank you so much for sharing, Dr. Menn.  I am certain many women out there will benefit from your story and expertise.

Find out more information on the BRCA gene.

If you or someone you know is at high risk for breast or ovarian cancer but has not been diagnosed with it, learn more from our partner, Bright Pink.

You may also wish to learn more about Dr. Menn.

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Categories: YSC SYNC - Survivors

Living Our Best Life

2015 is a milestone year for me. Twenty years ago, I first heard the words: ‘You have breast cancer.” I was 27. Ten years ago, I heard those words again. When I made it five years cancer-free after that second diagnosis, my family and I did a quiet backyard celebration (nothing like a pile of leaves and kids!). But that’s not all that happened after my second diagnosis. I found YSC. No one “gets it” like someone who has “lived it.” YSC gave me a sisterhood of support unlike any other in the world.

Northeast Regional Field Manger, Medha, celebrating life with her family.

Northeast Regional Field Manger, Medha Sutliff, celebrating life with her family.

Every year of life with breast cancer is a milestone. But this year, I get to celebrate my two decade milestones in one of the BEST ways possible―with 200+ of my YSC sisters and their co-survivors at the first Northeast YSC Regional Symposium, June 6 in Washington D.C. I am so excited we are kicking off this series in the Northeast region!

This one-day event will focus on the
individual pursuit of resiliency and survivorship for young women affected by breast cancer AND their co-survivors (spouses, partners, siblings, parents, friends―anyone who supports you). No matter where you are in your breast cancer journey, there will be something for you. The event will include educational and inspirational speakers and workshops, as well as the opportunity to connect with survivors and co-survivors in YSC’s Northeast Region. Last but not least, it will be topped off YSC-style, with an evening celebration for all!

For young survivors:
• Nurturing your whole self
• Sex and intimacy
• Communicating after breast cancer

For co-survivors:
• Supporting your loved one
• Meeting in the Man Cave: communication, sex and intimacy
• Learning to take care of yourself, too

YSC recognizes the financial burden cancer can place on a young survivor. Thanks to some great fundraising work, YSC is excited to be able to offer complimentary hotel accommodations to all attendees traveling from outside of the Washington, D.C. metro area. What are you waiting for? Please don’t delay registering; space is limited and the buzz is spreading!

We can’t change the facts about our diagnosis, but we can choose how to live life moving forward. Join me in living OUR best life after a cancer diagnosis. Can’t wait to meet you with a milestone hug on June 6.


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Dude, Where’s My Wife?

Jeffrey Gannon and wife, Jennifer Merschdorf. CEO of Young Survival Coalition.

Jeffrey Gannon and wife, Jennifer Merschdorf. CEO of Young Survival Coalition.

The marketing world feels that it has guys figured out: Silly potty-humor movies, beer ads with scantily clad women, video games, bigger and better tools, you know what I am talking about.

There is no shortage of efforts to communicate with guys about the things they love: sports, cars, video games, you name it.  They even tell us about the stuff we don’t love: get your heart checked, have other private parts poked at that we don’t want to talk about, “just in case.”

But for many of us whose wives have been diagnosed with breast cancer, there is no Askmen.com column or fantasy football league to figure out what to do. Our loved ones are whisked off into surgeries, chemo sessions and we husbands are told what is happening, but are often left out in the waiting room with kids, parents and friends- feeling somewhat helpless, frightened or angry. Our world was turned upside down when my wife, Jennifer, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36.

And as many a husband or partner can attest, that initial diagnosis is just the beginning of a long journey, often changing their wife’s moods, appearance, and demeanor. We love our wives and help the best we can through these horrible experiences. But after a year or so, we look in the mirror and say, “Geez what happened to me? I look like hell.  I’m not the one with cancer.”

But cancer takes its toll on us as well.

No matter if you are the macho or sensitive type, husbands/boyfriends and partners are trained by society or instinct (or both) to standby, be strong and offer whatever help we can as our wives go through their battles with breast cancer. We can empathize, sympathize — whatever you want to call it — but we will never know exactly what she is going through. I mean, how could we?

And your friends only have so much time to hear about your situation.  We know they care, but the game is back on, it’s your turn to buy a round, throw the ball already. You know how guys are.

So where do we husbands/boyfriends and partners of survivors turn?  It’s a good question. I for one have not found an organized group of other guys who are “co-survivors,” but my wife has asked me to attend the 2015 YSC Survivor’s Summit in March, which will feature several sessions just for “co-survivors.” Full disclosure #1: my wife is the CEO of YSC.

Full disclosure #2: I thought Co-Survivor was a tribute group for the famous 80s band until I was told that it was a term for spouses, partners, loved ones and boyfriends of cancer survivors. Yikes, some education is definitely in order.

So I’ve decided to give it a shot and head down to Houston for the YSC Summit in March to check it out.  I know there will be several sessions dedicated to co-survivors. Hopefully, I will see some of you guys down there.  And during our down time, we can always go out and try to find some band playing “Eye of the Tiger,” and talk about our favorite college teams.



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I’m excited! Join me for our new YSC Summit for young women affected by breast cancer.

final summit home page banner

When a young woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she has many questions and feelings of uncertainty. When I was diagnosed in 2010 at the age of 36, I felt so alone. Yes, I had support from my husband, family and friends, but I longed to meet other young women who understood what I was going through physically and emotionally. That’s exactly what I found at YSC: a safe place to connect with other young breast cancer survivors and gain strength from each other.

I am super excited to tell you about our new YSC Summit, which is the only national conference of its kind dedicated to the unique needs of young women affected by breast cancer and their co-survivors! Imagine yourself among hundreds of young women and co-survivors coming together for three days, March 6-8, 2015, in Houston, Texas. It is going to be awesome!

Over the last 16 years, YSC has created a strong sisterhood of young breast cancer survivors nationwide (and even internationally). We understand the importance of connecting young women diagnosed with breast cancer and their co-survivors. We also know how important it is to be educated and empowered. And that’s why YSC is excited to offer our new conference.

Whether you are newly diagnosed, living with metastatic disease or several years out from diagnosis, the YSC Summit is for you! It will be inspiring, educational and fun. And there is nothing like meeting another young survivor Face 2 Face.

At YSC’s Summit, you will learn about:
•    The latest medical information
•    Sex and intimacy after diagnosis (because it does change!)
•    What survivorship looks like (newly diagnosed, in treatment, post treatment, metastatic and long term)
•    Quality-of-life issues (‘cause we all have them!)
•    How to cope with the side effects and long-term implications of treatment
•    Ways to implement healthy lifestyle changes (diet, physical activities)
•    Special workshops for young women living with metastatic breast cancer
•    Plus so much more – see the full schedule here!

You’ll hear from the leading experts like Drs. Susan Love, Don Dizon and Banu Arun. Plus, you’ll be inspired by other survivor speakers. Check out the full line-up of speakers and their bios here.

Co-survivors will find support and information, too.

Co-survivors will find support and information, too.

Another great aspect of the 2015 YSC Summit is that we are focusing on co-survivors. I like to describe them as the people who went through hell with you when you were diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. It could be a spouse, a partner, a parent, sibling or even a best friend.

I’m bringing my husband because he has been one of my rocks through this crazy journey! At the Summit, co-survivors will learn about how to take care of themselves and how to support us. They will walk away feeling empowered, knowing they are an important part of our breast cancer journey.

Worried about the cost of getting to Houston? We get it! YSC has come up with a variety of easy ways to help offset the cost. There are needs-based travel grants, fee waiversa fundraising option and airline discounts to help you get to there!

While I understand that March seems like a long time away, you do not want to lose your opportunity to attend. So register now, before the event sells out, and join us for three inspiring days.

Also – feel free to share the information about the YSC Summit with other young survivors and your healthcare providers, and encourage them to attend. We will be using #YSC2015 for the event to help begin a powerful conversation among young survivors, doctors and co-survivors.

I know that if you attend the YSC Summit, you will feel empowered, inspired, encouraged, more knowledgeable, fearless…and thankful for the new friends you’ve made. You will know for sure that you are not alone. YSC and an entire network of young survivors and supporters are here for you!

I can’t wait to see y’all in Houston!

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Categories: YSC SYNC - Survivors

Introducing YSC’s Long-Term Navigator

Once you hit the mark of being cancer free for five or more years, you may feel some sense of relief. But, you may also feel uncertainty or anxiety around your future. Why are those treatment effects still lingering? Will I ever feel the same as I did before breast cancer? And additionally, where do I fit in? We often hear from long-term survivors that they don’t necessarily feel like they have a place in the breast cancer community anymore. They may have aged out of the “young” survivor population, yet don’t identify with friends or family members who may have breast cancer now in their late 40s or 50s.

No one understands this better than long-term survivors. That’s why YSC is excited to launch a brand new resource: Beyond 5 Years: A Navigator for Long-Term Survivors.

Long-Term Navigator

YSC wanted to learn more about what long-term survivorship means for young women. So, we set out to really dive deep into the issues unique to this population and create a guidebook just for you. We started by surveying nearly 500 women who identified as young long-term survivors. With their help, we identified the most pressing topics and questions that were on their minds. Then by conducting small focus groups, we were able to discuss these issues in greater detail with long-term survivors and create a robust set of information to include in the Long-Term Navigator.

What we found is that, though there are similar issues as when a young woman first finishes her treatment, there are more that are unique to long-term survivorship. Many of those topics are explored in depth in the Long-Term Navigator—creating a resource dedicated to your specific questions and concerns:

– Managing long-term care and side effects

– Maintaining overall health and wellness, including diet, exercise and green living

– Cultivating your relationships and communicating with family

– Heredity and educating your children and loved ones about their own family history and risk

– Ongoing financial, legal and career issues and how to tackle those

– Defining what your life means after breast cancer

We hope that this information provides the support that so many long-term survivors say is lacking for their population. Interested in getting a free copy? You can order Beyond 5 Years: A Navigator for Long-Term Survivors or download a copy  .

The Long-Term Navigator complements YSC’s existing Navigator series which is designed to support and educate young women at every phase of their breast cancer experience. The other guidebooks include the Newly Diagnosed Navigator, Post-Treatment Navigator and Metastatic Navigator.

Are you a healthcare provider who treats young women? You may also be interested in  YSC’s Intro Kit—a great way to share all of YSC’s resources with the young survivors you see.




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So your girlfriend’s got cancer?

Breast cancer not only impacts the patient, but also the co-survivors (partners, spouses, siblings, parents and friends). In addition to the 12 profiles of young women affected by breast cancer, we also wanted to share the true impact of breast cancer from a co-survivor’s perspective.

Tell me a little bit about your girlfriend Erin’s diagnosis:

Pablo and Erin Colon. Photo by Jake Orness.

Pablo and Erin Colon. Photo by Jake Orness.

In April 2009, my girlfriend Erin was diagnosed with invasive and In Situ Ductal Carcinoma in her left breast and a benign papilloma in her right breast. She was 32.

Erin lost her mom to breast cancer nine months before she was diagnosed.  Even though there is a strong history of breast cancer in her family (her mom, three aunts and a grandmother), Erin is BRCA negative.  She could have opted for a lumpectomy but given her family history, Erin decided to have a bilateral mastectomy.

Because of the location and size of her tumor, she was a candidate for a nipple sparing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction and tissue expanders. We actually found out about the procedure and the surgeons through the YSC Community Boards.

None of the initial doctors mentioned it until we started asking and they confirmed she was a good candidate.

The surgeons also did a sentinel node biopsy and confirmed that the cancer hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes. The surgery was in June and Erin moved into my house post surgery so I could help with her care. In October, she had a follow-up surgery to replace the tissue expanders.  This was followed by hormone treatment with Tamoxifen that continues to this day.

We were lucky in that while we researched fertility preservation, the nature of Erin’s cancer and her Oncotype DX score were low. Because of the low score, chemotherapy would not provide much benefit, so she opted not to do it. We also didn’t need to do fertility preservation.

What was the hardest thing as a co-survivor?  

The hardest part of being a co-survivor was the feeling of helplessness.  You want to protect your loved ones from everything. I had to come to grips with the fact that I couldn’t protect Erin from cancer, but I could help her with the fight in lots of different ways. I was a shoulder, a sounding board, note taker at appointments, the guy who makes the doctors explain things fully and doesn’t let them just rush out of the room and – above all else – the researcher. I threw myself into research mode. (That’s how we found the YSC website and Community Boards.) I felt that by researching and learning everything I could about her type of cancer and treatment options, I was giving her the tools she needed to fight. And I was fighting it right alongside her. I felt less helpless and more like an active participant.

The thing that’s tough is you kind of stop taking care of yourself.  You find you are trying to be strong for your partner 24/7 but you are a wreck yourself and don’t necessarily realize it.  The emotions would often catch up with me when I was alone.  I’d be driving alone in the car and not realize I was crying.  It was tough for a 6’ 4” rugby player to admit, but I needed help.  I had a great support network of friends and family. I just needed to open up. I wouldn’t have been able to support Erin through her cancer without the help I got from friends and family.

Pablo, Erin and their daughter Dalia.

Pablo, Erin and their daughter Dalia.

What were resources that you used to help support yourself and your wife?
The YSC Community Boards were a huge resource for me. I’m a nerd so my first instinct is to research. We found out about nipple sparing mastectomies and recommendations for surgeons through the YSC. Even though I wasn’t the one with cancer, the women on the site were really welcoming and helped me tremendously.

What resources were missing, that you wish had existed?
There weren’t really other young spouses/partners I could easily find or talk to at the time.  There is a more conscious effort to assist co-survivors now.

What has happened since her initial diagnosis?
Erin and I got married in 2010, about a year after her last surgery. The oncologist wanted Erin on Tamoxifen for two years before we tried to have kids. At two years, Erin stopped Tamoxifen and we waited three months to ensure that it was out of her system. We were really lucky that Erin got pregnant right away. Our daughter Dalia was born three years, eight months and one day after Erin’s diagnosis.

Tell me about Tour de Pink and what drove you to participate?  

“I Ride 4 Her,” has raised more than $90,000 for YSC in the past four years.

“I Ride 4 Her,” has raised more than $90,000 for YSC in the past four years. Photo by Jake Orness.

Erin and I participated in our first Tour de Pink® (TdP) four years ago as a way to give back to the organization that helped us so much. I’ve ridden in her honor every year since.  Our TdP team, “I Ride 4 Her,” has raised more than $90,000 during the past four years. TdP is really a family.  We have this terrible disease in common that’s affected us all, but we’ve all come out on the other side of it stronger and eager to share our experiences with each other. My wife and teammates inspire me every day.  This year, Erin is riding all three days for the first time in celebration of her five-year Cancerversary.

What words of advice do you have for other spouses/co-survivors?
You can’t take care of your partner if you aren’t taking care of yourself; eventually you’ll crack.  Make the time to help yourself. You need your own support network so that you are strong enough to support your partner.



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Win a Trip for 2 to the We Can Survive Concert!

wcs2014r3As a young survivor, you know that Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is here for you from the day of your breast cancer diagnosis through treatment and into survivorship. YSC is also here for you when it’s time to celebrate life!

Do you ever feel the need to just “Shake it Off?” A night to “Break Free?” To feel “Fancy” and be “Happy?” YSC can make it happen for one lucky young survivor and her guest.

Last year, Young Survival Coalition was the beneficiary of the CBS “We Can Survive” concert featuring the amazing Katy Perry and friends. I’m excited that YSC will, once again, be a beneficiary of the second “We Can Survive” concert on Friday, October 24, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

This year’s incredible line-up includes Taylor Swift, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, Paramore and Sia along with a special guest appearance by Gwen Stefani!

I am thrilled that YSC is hosting a sweepstakes to send one survivor and a guest to the concert. The winner will receive two VIP tickets to the concert, round-trip airfare, hotel, and a special Oakley gift basket! Thanks to our friends at Oakley for sponsoring this awesome opportunity.

So, how do you sign up?

It’s easy!

Go to the sweepstakes page to register and see the full sweepstakes rules. Be sure you register by 11:59 p.m. ET October 14! We’ll announce the winner by Thursday, October 16.

Don’t miss out on this first-ever sweepstakes for young women with breast cancer.


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Categories: YSC SYNC - Survivors


PrintRecently, YSC received the exciting news that we have been awarded a $1.75 million grant to be used during the next five years. This generous funding will enhance the support services for young women diagnosed with breast cancer. YSC was one of only seven organizations to receive a grant in a deeply competitive process, and we are honored and thrilled to have the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC).

During our first year, we have prioritized our goals as follows:

o    Evaluate and enhance our existing resources to determine how we can make them even more effective and engaging.
o    Build a more robust healthcare provider program to increase their knowledge, understanding and investment in how to communicate with young breast cancer survivors.
o    Increase multimedia educational opportunities through various platforms so that a larger, more national audience can tap into the wealth of invaluable information.
o    Expand the availability of supportive services for young women diagnosed and their co-survivors through increasing the number of YSC F2Fs across the country.

Why are these important?
We strive to stay current with young women affected by breast cancer. Your feedback tells us that our existing resources are impactful; yet we’re always working to improve and re-assess how we can best support young survivors. We rely on your opinion and the input from medical experts to keep us tuned in to the topics and issues that matter most.

Healthcare providers are brilliant and busy individuals. Even with the progress we have made to debunk the myth that women can be “too young” to get breast cancer, we are still working to get that message heard. We want your healthcare providers to know about how breast cancer impacts the whole person, and we want them to have our educational materials on hand especially our Intro Kits at initial diagnosis.

New programs, including our 2015 Summit, will help us deliver information and build community in more innovative ways, and we are excited to share it with you. During the Summit, our general sessions will feature engaging and dynamic speakers who will deliver short, yet powerful, presentations about relevant topics for young survivors. Naturally, not everyone can attend due to scheduling conflicts, being medically unable to travel or lacking the financial resources, even with travel grant assistance. For these women, we are working on creative ways to make this information more immediately available. Use of multimedia platforms will host medical information, coping strategies, meaningful support and guidance offered at the Summit.

This incredible and generous CDC grant will help YSC do what it does best: offer resources, connections and outreach so that young women affected by breast cancer feel supported, empowered and hopeful.

We thank the CDC for supporting our efforts, and we thank all of you for your ongoing feedback and active involvement in YSC.


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