Tips from YSC Moms

For many mothers, one of the first reactions to being diagnosed with breast cancer is “What about my kids?” There is no one right way to help children cope because everyone is different. YSC has amazing staff who were mothers of young children when they were first diagnosed with breast cancer. We’ve asked a few of them to share some useful tips and offer advice from their own personal experiences.

 

Nicole Taylor, Regional Field Manager (West), diagnosed at 34

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Me and my 5 year old daughter Kailee while I was going through chemotherapy in 2004.

My children were 2 and 4 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 – Kids are resilient. One of the best pieces of advice that another young survivor shared with me when I was first diagnosed was that kids are resilient, more than we can even imagine. It’s okay if they watch a little more Blue’s Clues or have PB&J for lunch a little too often. Kids will still thrive and grow into wonderful human beings!

 – Let things go. Spend time with your kids and let the dishes and laundry pile up. It’ll be there tomorrow. Or better yet, take one of your friends and family up on their offer to help. They can hang out with the kids or assist with daily chores that can drain your energy and eat up precious family time. Organizational programs like lotsahelpinghands are helpful to add chores, rides to school, sports and doctor appointments to allow others to help you.

 – Be open with your kids. I was very open with my kids about cancer. I lost my mom to a brain tumor at a young age, so I understood what’s going through the mind of a 5 year old when they learn “mom is sick.” Cancer is a very abstract thing, so depending on the age of your child, they will have different questions and levels of understanding. Honestly, they may not want to know the science of breast cancer, but may want to know if you’re going to be okay. “Are you going to die from cancer?” That is absolutely the hardest question to answer and one that is asked often, usually over cheerios at the breakfast table. My consistent answer every time was “I did everything in my power to make sure my cancer doesn’t come back. Right now, there is no evidence of disease (NED) or cancer in my body. My promise to you is if that ever changes, I will tell you the truth and what it means. For now, we will move forward with living and enjoying all of the beauty of life. The ups, downs and in betweens.”

 

Michelle Esser, Senior Program Manager of Research and Advocacy, diagnosed at 37

Michelle bald

This is one of the few occasions where my son saw me without a wig or scarf. It was taken post-treatment and my hair was starting to come back.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my son was 3 and my daughter was 6.

 – Remember, kids are super smart.  They can pick-up on emotions and that something is “up.” Even if you think you’re successfully keeping something about your diagnosis “quiet” or a “secret,” you’re not. Kids just know!  Keep them informed as much as possible (age appropriate information), so they don’t have to worry about what’s going on or invent an explanation that could be worse than the truth.

 – Have backup the first time you speak with them. When you tell your kids about your diagnosis, have someone there with you if possible.  They can be your “back-up” in case you find yourself at a loss for words or become emotional.

 – Let them know about their daily schedule. Make sure the kids know how your diagnosis and treatment will affect their day-to-day life. Will they still be able to play with the neighbor kids? Will someone else be in your house helping to look after them?

 – Be prepared for tough questions! Kids, especially young kids, don’t have filters.  Think of the worst possible thing they could ask you and be prepared. My 6-year old daughter asked me who would take care of her when I died – and I had never mentioned dying.

 – Be open to future discussions. Let them know it is okay to come back to you with questions.

 – Take cues for your kids. If you’ll lose your hair due to treatment, take cues from your kids about how they want to handle this and whether they want to see you bald. Some kids are fine and think it is fun to help shave mom’s head. Others, like mine, were terrified and did not want to see me without something covering my head. I tried to respect that as much as I could.

 

Medha Sutliff, Senior Regional Field Manager (Midwest), diagnosed at 28 and 37

sejal and me

This is my smiling thru tears photo. I had to wear glasses because chemo made my eyes so dry. I’m wearing a wig and sitting with my 6 month old daughter who I couldn’t lift as I was recovering from surgery.

My first breast cancer diagnosis was at 28, right after I got married. In March 2005, I received my second breast cancer diagnosis at 37. At that time I had four kids, ages 3 months, 5, 9 and 11 years old.

 – Don’t try to go it alone! This is the #1 tip I can give to young mothers facing breast cancer. Navigating life as a mom can be challenging enough, but then a cancer diagnosis and treatment can make it overwhelming. It’s important to seek out resources and accept help!

 – Get resources on how to talk to your kids. One big area I needed help with was how to talk to my kids about cancer. There are publications and books that can help you find the right words. Two good places to start are the American Cancer Society and CancerCare. There are also mom blogs and other websites that provide information, one which I remember looking at was Mothers With Cancer. I also recommend talking to other moms who have had a cancer diagnosis.

 – Attend support groups for families. Ask your nurse navigator if there is a cancer support group for families with young kids. It is worth attending! Some medical centers or cancer support organizations have support groups just for kids who have a parent who has been diagnosed.

 – Set up a CaringBridge or similar site. It was exhausting for me to keep responding to texts and calls from people inquiring how I was doing. You don’t need to post updates on Facebook or social media for the world to see, but you can easily setup a secure page on CaringBridge where you or a designated person can post updates. Plus you can read everyone’s well wishes. 

 – Get help with meals. MealTrain is another great site to help organize those who want to bring meals.

 – Set up a “busy box.” This was great for my 5 year old and 6 month old. This is just a box with some new fun toys and games that you can bring out when you’re tired or not feeling well. It’s something your friends can help you put together. Keep this box only for those special times when you need them busy so that it gets the kids interest when you need it to.

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RESOURCES

Find more resources and tips for children on YSC’s website. Connecting with other mothers who have been affected by breast cancer is also helpful, whether it’s through the YSC Community Forum, on the Private Facebook Group, or in person at a Face 2 Face group.

We’re here to help, so let us know how we can assist you and your family. Find your YSC Regional Field Manager, your go-to person for resources and support in your area.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: YSC SYNC - Survivors

The Weight of Uncertainty

As we near the end of Stress Awareness Month, we’d like to share a blog written by Melissa Eppard, a young survivor, wife, and mother who lives in the Hudson Valley of New York. Melissa works as a Life Coach, writer and artist. Her inspiring blog focuses on healing and hope after her breast cancer diagnosis. This particular entry, The Weight of Uncertainty, touches upon the stress a young woman facing breast cancer can feel while making decisions about her treatment and recovery.

ME-8811LRI will write this not to raise alarm bells, nor to let my fears and worries spiral out into the mucky sea of collective uncertainty. I don’t wish you to hold me in thoughts of sorrow or sympathy. Still, this needs to be written and shared because I know someone out there will read this and will know the exquisite pain and heaviness of uncertainty and I want YOU to know you are not alone. I share this in hopes to offer some guidance as to how to tread these murky waters.

Two weeks ago I got a call that my recent pelvic ultrasound results were questionable. I was ordered to go for blood work and to return for another scan in 6 weeks. I’m holding court with a vision of these two cysts being just that, regular normal cysts that will go away on their own. Over the years I have had them before, and while uncomfortable, they just burst on their own. No big deal.

The ironic timing of this news is that I have been debating in my mind the recommendation of my doctors to relinquish my ovaries by the time I am 40. Chemo does a number on you, and for some the total cessation of your monthly cycle is one of the many side effects. I was thrown into a yearlong “chemopause” that came with all the discomforts that menopause brings. Only just recently did my hormones come back online and I could feel a complete return to my old self again. Why couldn’t I just stall the oophorectomy a little longer, until maybe 45? Do I really need to put myself through another surgery in the next year or two? Am I ready to be thrust into permanent menopause within hours of this procedure, hitting the irreversible switch?

Looking at the data, the statistics aren’t so good for women with the BRCA 1 gene mutation. While the general population has a 2% risk of developing ovarian cancer over the course of a lifetime, the risk for BRCA 1 women is somewhere in the 35-70% zone. I have shelved this data, with a proverbial wave of my hand and a “yeah-yeah, whatever”, until now.

The dismissal of symptoms in the recent past has not served me. What I thought was a swollen lymph gland was a tumor. I’m a little gun shy, trying to find the middle ground between optimism and dismissiveness, hope and denial. While I would like to take the kid-gloves off, I still question everything in a new way. I am hopeful and feeling full of life, yet I know that I never want to endure chemo again if I can help it. I know that my little ovarian oysters are tricky to diagnosis. It is not until things are too far gone that they can detect ovarian cancer.

After my breast surgery, I had met another BRCA 1, triple negative breast cancer survivor. She told me that she had gone for her oophorectomy immediately after having her breast reconstruction. It seemed strange to me, and I admit feeling a little judgement about it. I am not of the mindset that it’s normal to just keep cutting away parts of your body. My incisions were still screaming red fresh and the PTSD of surgery and the oncoming chemotherapy had me in a head spin. I wondered, “Am I playing God here? I was born this way, with this genetic defect. Maybe I am not meant to live out a 70+ year life.”

Melissa and sonHere is where my faith and the empirical value of science wed. I look at my little boy and my husband and feel the precariousness of our day to day life. These guys need me around for the long haul if I can help it. And here I am standing on the threshold, given a choice that truly can help prolong my life. While I have enjoyed the juiciness of my hormonal youth, I can choose to view it as just another small sacrifice. This is what it comes down to for me when our little family sits in a cozy hug sandwich.

If you are still reading this, I bet you too know something of courage and bravery. You know that by turning your back and not making a choice, you are in effect making a choice. I can’t say for you if this is the right one or not. I think of all my brothers and sisters in this world who are not given much of a choice, who have lost hope, and for that I am truly sorry.  Still, there is work to be done here, lives to touch, love to share, until the last breath and beyond.

How do you keep moving in the face of uncertainty and fear? You hold onto the hope around you until you can find your own, and with a little seed of courage, you take that first step forward.

*For the BRCA+ people out there, here is a decision tool that can help you compare your options with or without surgery, based on the data of recorded survivor rates.

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Find strength in the inspirational stories of other young survivors on YSC’s website. Survivor Stories are personal reflections and experiences that members of the YSC Circle share with others affected by breast cancer. If you would like to add your own voice to this collection, please follow this link to submit your story.

 

 

 

 

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Today is My Five-Year Anniversary as the CEO of YSC!!

The past five years have gone so fast, and it is hard to believe how much has happened since I joined YSC as CEO.

When Lisa Frank and Anna Cluxton called and offered me the job in spring 2011, I was nine months out from my breast cancer diagnosis, two months into medically induced menopause and eager to get started! I was 100% sure I could meet their expectations and hoped I would exceed them. The board of directors and staff welcomed me with open arms – and we jumped into action immediately.

My goal coming into this incredibly important job was to ensure that YCS was positioned to reach EVERY SINGLE young woman affected by breast cancer in the U.S. I am proud to say that we are well on our way to accomplishing that.

A lot has happened to YSC since 2011. We reorganized ourselves both externally and internally, and we invested in new technology. As a result, we’ve grown beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Take a look:

 – When I arrived in 2011, we had 24 organized groups of YSC women across the country. Today, we have 146 Face 2 Face (F2F) local networking groups with more than 4,000 actively involved young breast cancer survivors, and we’re still growing.

 – In 2011, YSC distributed 3,500 navigators to help young breast cancer survivors through their journey. This year, we are on target to almost double that at 6,500!

 – In 2011, YSC actively engaged more than 7,000 people in our programs. By 2015, that number had jumped to more than 50,000 people!

Kristin Westbrook and YSC CEO Jennifer Merschdorf at TdP West Coast in 2014.

Kristin Westbrook and YSC CEO Jennifer Merschdorf at TdP West Coast in 2014.

 

In additional to the company’s growth, I have personally changed a lot in the past five years. I learned how to ride a bike and have ridden in eight Tour de Pink events! I survived five years of breast cancer treatment and seven surgeries, and while I am a few sizes bigger (in a lot of areas), I am happy to have kicked cancer’s ass! I have also learned first-hand how deadly breast cancer can be to young women, having attended the funerals of too many friends.

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YSC Deputy Chief, Stacy Lewis with CEO Jennifer Merschdorf.

 

While I am proud of many things that have happened during the past five years, the smartest thing I EVER did was to promote Stacy Lewis to Deputy Chief Executive. We have become strong business partners, fiercely determined leaders and close friends.

 

 

None of YSC’s growth and success would be possible without a committed board of directors and awesome staff, and I am beyond grateful for their hard work and dedication.

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The dedicated staff of YSC.

As I head into my next five years as CEO, I can’t wait for you to see what I have planned. It will be #YSCAwesome! Thank you, as always, for your support and involvement.

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Have you read this year’s annual report? Check out what YSC has been able to accomplish thanks to dedicated staff, incredible volunteers, partners and donors.

 

 

 

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Infertility After Breast Cancer

Many young women may be diagnosed with breast cancer before having any children or may not be finished building a family at the time of their diagnosis. You may have many questions regarding whether breast cancer or its treatment will impact your fertility and YSC is here to help.

Breast Cancer Treatment and Fertility:
The truth is breast cancer treatments can impact your fertility. Although surgery and radiation rarely affect fertility, chemotherapy, hormonal treatments and targeted treatments can.

 – Chemotherapy can damage or destroy eggs impacting your immediate and long-term fertility.

 – Tamoxifen isn’t known to cause infertility, but it may interfere with childbearing because of the duration of treatment, usually five to ten years, in which time a woman shouldn’t get pregnant due to potential for birth defects.

 – Herceptin (or trastuzumab) is also not known to affect fertility, but women should not get pregnant while taking it and should wait at least six months after completing treatment before trying to get pregnant.

baby desireFertility & Family Planning Options:
 – If you’re newly diagnosed, act quickly and speak with your medical team as soon as possible. People may tell you to focus on treating your cancer first, but it is important that you also consider life after cancer treatment and the impact of any treatment you may choose. If having biological children is of interest to you, ask to be referred immediately to a reproductive endocrinologist for a consultation. Fertility preservation options may include embryo freezing, egg freezing, ovarian tissue freezing and ovarian suppression. Based on recent research results, some doctors will now recommend ovarian suppression during chemotherapy to try and protect the ovaries during treatment. Ask your doctor if this may be an option for you. Even if you ultimately decide not to proceed with freezing your eggs or other fertility preservation steps, it is good to be informed and aware of your options. You can learn more details of each option under “Fertility Preservation Options.”

 – If you’re post-treatment and if you didn’t or couldn’t make fertility plans before treatment started, that does NOT mean that your door to motherhood is closed. Speak with a reproductive endocrinologist who can perform tests to measure your ability to get pregnant. If it is determined that you are infertile, there are options that may include in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg donation, surrogate/gestational carrier and adoption, which you can review in more detail under “Fertility Options After Treatment.”

 – If you’re currently living with Metastatic Breast Cancer, consult your physician about whether or not future pregnancy may be recommended for you. If adoption is something of interest to you, discuss this with your physician and contact local adoption agencies for their insight. You can find fertility and adoption resources in YSC’s ResourceLink Guidebook.

More Information on Family Planning:
Fertility preservation can be expensive, and often not covered by insurance. Financial assistance may be available at participating centers through Livestrong’s Sharing Hope program and the Heart Beat Fertility Preservation Program. You can review the full list of information and resources under the Family Planning section here.

Jamie Pleva-Nickerson, Survivor, YSC State Leader and TdP Rider with her miracle twins

Have Hope
Many young survivors have gone on to have biological or adopted children after their breast cancer diagnosis. Hear from other young women like you:

Stephanie, diagnosed at 26

Karen, diagnosed at 32

Jodi, diagnosed at 30

Jamie, diagnosed at 29

“Real Talk” Fertility Preservation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 24, 2016 for Infertility Awareness Week and has been updated for accuracy as of May 20, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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YSC Goes Green for Earth Day

YSC hearts EarthHappy Earth Day!

Today marks the 46th anniversary of an incredible movement started in 1970 to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action for the good of Mother Earth.

As an organization focused on the well-being of young women facing breast cancer, we’re always touting the benefits of good nutrition, exercise and general wellness during and after treatment. But today, we’re going to focus on the things we do to help the well being of our lovely planet.

Today, YSC is going green and sharing what we do today and every day to make a difference:

Irene recycling

Mary Ajango’s little recycling helper Irene!

Recycling & Composting
“At the YSC New York office, we buy eco-products such as copy paper, file folders and other items when available. All of our PC’s and copiers/printers have a sleep mode to conserve on energy being used. We also recycle!”
Juan Quizhpi, Operations Associate

“We have a counter top composter at the YSC Atlanta office, which I either take home or donate to a local neighborhood community garden. Composting makes good dirt while giving back to the earth.”
– Jean Rowe, Associate Director of Survivorship Programs

“Our family recycles in any way possible. And all food scraps go into our compost bin to fertilize our gardens. We get to enjoy fresh produce all summer.”
– Medha Sutliff, Sr. Regional Field Manager (Midwest)

compost garden

Medha’s compost setup in her backyard.

Reducing Waste
“We carry backpacks and reusable bags around with us while shopping to avoid using disposable bags.”
– Lily Hanson, Director of Finance and Operations

“We eliminate paper products as much as possible and we use refillable drink containers. We have replaced light bulbs to more environmentally friendly ones and donate clothing and other items to charities. We also pay bills online and eliminate paper statements. If you are getting a lot of junk mail, you can opt out through DMAchoice.
– Jennifer Johnson, Sr. Director of Mission Marketing and Communications

“We don’t use paper towels or paper napkins in our household. Instead, we have a bag of rags or microfiber cloths to use as paper towels and we always use cloth napkins. For cleaning, we use vinegar and baking soda instead of traditional cleaning products sold at stores. We also get our newspaper and magazines digitally through Texture.com!”
– Mary Ajango, Director of Community Engagement

nicole garden

Nicole’s veggie garden featuring lettuce, spinach, cabbage, zucchini, kale and onions.

Smart Food Choices
“We try to eat foods that are in season and grown or raised locally; it’s better for our health, better for the environment, and supports local industry. We also look for sustainably caught or farmed seafood to protect the ecosystems of our rivers and oceans!”
– Lily Hanson, Director of Finance and Operations
For information on in-season produce, check out the Eat Seasonably Calendar and Seafood Watch recommendations offers information on which seafood items are “Best Choices” or “Good Alternatives,” and which ones you should “Avoid.”

“We started a veggie garden this year and plan to get chickens! We’ve been purchasing local organic eggs for years. Since we have a big yard and eat a lot of eggs as a family, it’ll be great to raise our own chickens, which also benefits our composting efforts. Plus homegrown eggs are the best, as the yolk is more yellow and tastes great.”
– Nicole Taylor, Regional Field Manager (West)

“I celebrate Earth Day everyday thanks to my vegan diet. Being vegan helps conserve water and protects the environment from harmful emissions. Most of my fruits and veggies are purchased from my local farmers that don’t use chemicals that harm local honeybees! I use honey for allergies, a sore throat, for cuts, upset stomach, diy beauty treatments! It works great for pups too (check with your vet first).”
– Mary Atwater, Communications Associate

Buying Green
“I buy beauty and cleaning products from companies that don’t use nasty chemicals or engage in animal testing. Bonus if the ingredients are organic and the company is a small business!”
– Melissa Scholl, Senior Marketing Manager
For more information, check out Cosmetic Safety Database, a great resource!

“Buying gently worn clothing and other necessities on sites like eBay, Mercari, and Poshmark instead of buying new is a great way to be green. The clothing industry is among the worst polluters out there!”
– Lily Hanson, Director of Finance and Operations

Reducing Carbon Emissions
“During the Spring and Summer months, I cycle around the City rather than take the subway or get in cabs.”
– Grace Foxton, Regional Field Associate (Northeast)

“I walk 4 miles to work everyday, even in the rain or cold, over the Brooklyn Bridge. It takes about 75 minutes, but it’s a great way to start my day. I have done it for about 5 years!”
– Jennifer Owens, Senior Program Associate

“We made our house and home office energy efficient and have solar panels. We also drive a partial zero emissions vehicle and I walk my kids to school rather than drive.”
– Naomi Gewirtz, Director of Employee Relations

“We try walking to places if it’s a quick trip, like to the store or picking kids up from school. Saving a little gas and the ozone will help future generations!”
Nicole Taylor, Regional Field Manager (West)

 

Do you have great green tips? Please share it with us! We’ll post some of your ideas on Facebook and Twitter.

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10 Stress Reducing Tips for Young Survivors

STRESS — the word alone can be enough to make you feel anxious or on edge. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Stress can be defined as the brain’s response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change.”

It is clear that a breast cancer diagnosis is a major change in the life of the person diagnosed and also in the lives of their co-survivors (family, friends, partners and spouses). At YSC, we strive to provide you with as many tools as we can so you can cope with the various changes you are facing during and after your breast cancer diagnosis.

How Can You Best Cope with Stress?

1.) Accept Help. Friends and family want to help.There are great websites such as Lotsa Helping HandsTake Them a Meal, and Care Pages). to help your or better yet, someone in your circle of support to help keep things organized)

2.) Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. You may not want to tell your loved ones everything you are feeling. A mental healthcare provider can be an objective listener.

3.) Prioritize. Focus on what needs to be done now and do one thing at a time. It’s o.k. for the house to be messy

4.) Take care of yourself physically. Eat healthy, get enough sleep, and make time to exercise/relax.

5.) Utilize YSC’s FREE Resources.

       – Face 2 Face Networks and Online Support Groups are wonderful ways to connect with other young women who know what you are going through. Or get matched with a peer mentor who can offer you support over the telephone.

       – Download/Order the right Navigator for you. (We have four to choose from – Newly DiagnosedMetastaticPost-Treatment or Long Term).

A few of YSC’s State Leaders share how they were able to manage stress while facing breast cancer:

Danielle Lee (1)

Stori Nagel

Erin Schabert

Beck Steiner

Marenda Hughes

 

 

 

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Categories: YSC SYNC - Survivors

My Favorite Time of Year – On My Motorcycle with TdP!

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Jim with Lisa Frank, Founder of Tour de Pink

The first question I get from most people when I say I’m a Motor Marshal for Tour de Pink is not “what is Tour de Pink?” but “what’s a Motor Marshal do?”

Our job starts with safety for the riders. We’re a big presence on our motorcycles, with lights and horns that are more easily noticed than the bicycles. We ride in front, helping the riders cross challenging intersections. We can’t legally stop cars, so we usually tell the riders when it’s safe to cross. This first job isn’t the highlight of our day, standing around in motor gear and all…

We also try to fix what we see going wrong. It could be a flat tire or pesky bike chain. It might be a rider with cramps, or one trying to catch up with friends, and sometimes we help track down a lost rider. We usually carry tubes, pumps and tools, just like the SAG (Support and Gear) Wagons. And we’re always ready to contact the emergency support number for anything beyond our capabilities.

The most fun we have is providing encouragement for the riders. We really appreciate you having your name and hometown on your rider bib, which helps get a conversation started. We want to get to know you and vice versa.

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Be sure to say “hi” to Jim and his motor crew at the inaugural Tour de Pink South ride, which starts today!

We know that many of you have or have had serious heath issues, and we want to help you attack one more day on that bike.

Finishing one long ride can be very rewarding. Finishing a long weekend ride is, well… many of you know that incredible feeling. Beer tastes so good at the end of the last day!

Yes, my favorite time of year is the Tour de Pink weekends, and this year I get three of them. Life just doesn’t get any better!

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A huge thank you to Jim and his motor crew for ensuring Tour de Pink riders enjoy a safe ride in support of young women affected by breast cancer.

Interested in meeting Jim and his crew? Join one of our upcoming Tour de Pink rides! Where will 200 miles take you?

Today is the start of the inaugural Tour de Pink South ride! Follow the journey via social media for exciting updates and adventures from April 15 – April 18.

Instagram: YSCTdP
Twitter: @YSCTdP
Facebook: TdPSouth

 

 

 

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Feeding Those Hungry Riders

TdPIt all starts with two pieces of bread. On one slice of bread, I use my plastic knife to evenly spread on the peanut butter and on the second slice, I apply the jelly.  I carefully place the two pieces of bread together and then cut the sandwich into four semi-perfect triangles and place them on a tray. This routine is repeated over and over and over (well you get the point) during the course of the three days in which Tour de Pink takes place. I make what feels like a million peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and honey, or just plain peanut butter sandwiches, but the truth is, I would make a million more sandwiches to satisfy the hunger and cravings of the hundreds of cancer survivors and supporters that come out to ride in Tour de Pink.

YSC has put on this amazing event for 12 years now and each year the number of riders and participants greatly increases. For the past three years I have worked for Giant Bicycles. As one of their employees, I’ve had the great fortune of volunteering for this particular event. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect my first time around, but I can honestly say that it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I could not have been more inspired by the determination and positive attitudes I experienced from these courageous riders.

I have the pleasure of working with one of these courageous riders, Jolie Hershey. Jolie was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2012. And truth be told, you would never know it because her attitude and outlook on life are absolutely amazing. She might not always be leading the pack; heck, she might even take the occasional lift on one of our SAG support trucks (shout-out to SAG 2!) but Jolie ALWAYS has a smile on her face.

There were several occasions throughout the ride where I was thanked repeatedly for volunteering at the rest stops. But it’s really the riders that should be thanked for their inspiration and determination to ride 200 miles to bring awareness to breast cancer and support young women who face this disease. This will be my third year volunteering and I honestly could not be more excited!

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A huge shout out to Nicole and the other amazing Tour de Pink volunteers who ensure riders are well fed and ready to take on 200 miles in support of young women affected by breast cancer.

Interested in going the distance for YSC? Register now and raise $500 by April 15th and you’ll earn an extra $100 fundraising credit towards your fundraising goal! Register today!

 

 

 

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Supporting Young Survivors and Paying It Forward

Today kicks off National Volunteer Week and we want to thank our amazing volunteers for their dedication and hard work! We could not begin to reach the nearly 12,000 young women diagnosed each year without each and every one of YOU! Thank you!

Our volunteers are a fantastic mix of people—everyone from newly diagnosed women to long-term survivors; their co-survivors (including spouses, children, parents, friends and co-workers); and members of the community who want to ensure that no young woman faces breast cancer alone. The common thread that ties them all together is their passion for spreading the word about YSC. They share their stories, they represent YSC at health fairs and community events and they raise money to help further the mission. Our volunteers are an integral part of our successes and accomplishments.

Haven’t gotten involved yet? There are so many ways YOU can get involved and help ensure no young woman faces breast cancer alone. Join others just like you across the country as we educate, empower, support and raise awareness.

Help Spread The Word

 – (EASY) Get social: Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Sharing posts, tweets and videos with information about programs and events to friends and family goes a long way!

 – (EASYSpread awareness in your community: Host a YSC info table at a local health fair or community event, and help distribute YSC materials and resources to raise awareness.

 – (EASYShare Your Story: Tell your story at a local event to raise awareness and inspire others.

 – (Leadership Role) Become a YSC State Leader: Serve as the key link  between your local community (survivors, volunteers and healthcare providers) and the YSC Regional Field staff.  Current applications are open until the end of April.

 – (Leadership Role) RISE (Respected Influencers through Science and Education) AdvocateBe part of the next generation of educated breast cancer advocates. A three-year commitment includes advocacy training. Applications for the next class open this fall.

Support Survivors

 – (EASY) Sharyour story online: Every survivor has one, and sharing your story and advice offers hope to others.

 – (EASY) Engage with the YSC Online Community: Join the conversation by participating and supporting women in our online forums.

 – (EASY) Attend a YSC conference or local Face 2 Face Networking Group: There is nothing like meeting and supporting other young women in person.

 – (EASY) Train to be a SurvivorLink volunteer: Serve as a peer mentor from the comfort of your home.

 – (Leadership Role) YSC Face 2 Face CoordinatorStart a local networking and support group for survivors in your community.  Health care providers are also welcome to become F2F Coordinators!

Go the Distance

 – (Easy) Join us for In Living Pink: The Art of Survival in NYC on May 20, 2016. The evening will feature artworks for auction by some of New York’s top artists, live performances, music, mingling and delicious food. Bid on auction items no matter where you live!

 – (Easy) Catch the Congressional Women’s Softball Game: Get a ticket for just $10 and cheer on the women Members of Congress vs. the DC Press Corps in Washington D.C. on June 15, 2016 at 6 p.m.

 – (Awe-Inspiring) Become a YSC Champion: Host a lemonade stand, celebrate a special milestone, run a marathon, organize a silent auction – the choices are nearly endless and all of them make you a champion of young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

 – (Awe-Inspiring) Ride in YSC Tour de PinkJoin us for an incredible three-day bike ride with three different rides to choose from – East Coast, West Coast and South. The only question is – where will 200 miles take you?

Sign up to receive email updates when new volunteer opportunities become available in your area, and join our movement to start making a difference today.

 

 

 

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Take Action for National Minority Cancer Awareness Week

National Minority Cancer Awareness WeekAt YSC, we work all year long to develop programs that are as diverse as the young women we serve. Because breast cancer disproportionately affects certain populations, we need your help so we can continue to provide services that are inclusive and impactful.

It is important to recognize the unique experiences of those who identify as minority women diagnosed with breast cancer. We support efforts that highlight these important issues, including National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, which begins this Sunday, April 10. This is a week dedicated to promoting awareness of cancer among racial and ethnic minorities, and the greater cancer burden they face.

 

Did you know?

 – African American women under the age of 45 are more likely to get breast cancer than white women in the same age group.[1]

 – Compared to non-Hispanic white women, Hispanic/Latina women are less likely to receive prompt and suitable breast cancer treatment.[2]

Some of the barriers that minority women face include inadequate access to health care, lack of health insurance, limited health literacy, discrimination and a health care system that is not culturally competent (e.g., not offering materials in different languages).

It’s also important to acknowledge that many of the barriers to care that women of racial and ethnic minorities face are also experienced by women from other diverse backgrounds, for example:

 – There are higher rates of breast cancer among lesbian and bisexual women compared to heterosexual women. At the same time, lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to have adequate health insurance and receive routine health screenings.[3]

 – Women living in rural areas are often diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage than women residing in metropolitan areas.[4]

What can you do?

We care about the unique needs and experiences of young women from every background. So, we are asking any young woman affected by breast cancer, as well as health care providers, to complete our Diversity and Inclusion Survey. This survey is part of our long-term strategy to gather the information we need to better serve all young women affected by breast cancer.

Will you take a few minutes to complete this important survey?
The information we gather will allow us to better address the needs of all the young women we serve. The survey is open to individuals of any racial, ethnic, sexual orientation or socio-economic background.

Click For Survey

As a thank you for your participation, your name will be entered for a chance to win one of five $30 Amazon gift cards. The deadline to complete it is May 11, 2016.

 


 

[1] American Cancer Society (2016). Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2016-2018. Atlanta: American Cancer Society. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-047403.pdf

[2] American Cancer Society (2015). Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanic/Latinos 2015-2017. Atlanta: American Cancer Society. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-046405.pdf

[3] American Cancer Society (2015).  Cancer Facts for Lesbian and Bisexual Women. Atlanta: American Cancer Society. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044844.pdf

[4] Depke, J.L., Boreen, A., and Onitilo, A.A. (2015). Navigating the Needs of Rural Women with Breast Cancer: A Breast Care Program. Clinical Medicine & Research. 13 (3-4), 149-55. doi:10.3121/cmr.2015.1260

 

 

 

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