The Things I Don’t Talk About

Let’s talk about the things I don’t talk about. The things I carry with me each day—silently—as I go about my business living as close to a normal life as I can. The things that weigh on my shoulders—things that I didn’t even know were there—until they’ve been lifted.

Hi. My name is Melissa. I’m 35. I have two amazing baby boys who are 3.5 years old and 9.5 month old. I’m also married to Mr. Wonderful. A month and a half after I married Mr. Wonderful, I was diagnosed with stage IIA breast cancer. I was 29 years old. I opted for a double mastectomy and four rounds of chemotherapy. I passed my “five year mark” —the point at which your chance of recurrence statistically goes down significantly—in May 2015 without incident. I was 2 months pregnant at the time with our littlest. In January 2016, five weeks postpartum, I went in for an MRI of my neck. There was a lingering “pregnancy pain” that just wasn’t going away. On January 21 I got a call from my PCP who ordered the scan. She said the radiologist wanted me back in to rescan, this time with contrast. There was something “not right.” I went in the next day. I cried on the MRI table and had to pause the scan. I knew. I knew in my bones what was happening. That night I received another call from my PCP to discuss results.

On January 22, 2016 I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer a.k.a. stage IV. The pain in my neck was from a tumor that had eaten away half of the left side of my C3 vertebrae. I was 2 months way from turning 35. I hadn’t even had my 6 week postpartum check-up yet.

After the MRI, we went through the whirlwind that is diagnosis and immediate surgeries and treatments to stabilize my neck and get a fuller picture of “the spread.” In addition to my C3, there were metastases to the cricoid cartilage that had narrowed my airway by 40% and required a tracheostomy to be put in place as well as a 4 cm conglomerate mass of nodes and nodules in my right lung, additional spots in various bones throughout the body as well as 3 spots in the brain. Radiation therapy has been my friend and has saved me from a fractured hip and hip replacement and from suffocation and paralysis. I’ve said goodbye to my ovaries, as well as any chance of additional children, am taking a $10,000 a month breakthrough medication ($476 per pill), a daily aromatase inhibitor, a $5,000 once monthly injection for my bones and a about 12-14 supplements, two times a day. In nine months, I’ve had two surgeries, three PET CTs, three individual CTs, 10 or so MRIs, and 46 sessions of radiation … give or take … and I don’t even want to count how many times I’ve had my blood drawn or an IV set.

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Melissa and her youngest son.

And so here we are today, 9 months later from that existence-altering event … in a window of calm between scans. I’m 35, and I’m slowly learning to cope. Every morning I wake up and sleep the night before was OK. I often wake up in the middle of the night. Sometimes it’s just because, sometimes it’s because Nicholas wakes … other times it’s because Camden is standing silently next to the bed, staring at me, and his presence alone startles me awake. Yeah, those aren’t the fun wake-ups. Those are the creepy, send your heart racing, why are you standing there in the dark watching me wake-ups. Always fun. But when I wake in the morning, I’m usually only semi-rested, and I’m creaky. I put my feet down, and they hurt. They’re stiff. I reach for my glasses and my hands are stiff. They hurt also from the lack of movement all night. I can’t make a fist with my right hand because experiencing trigger finger with my middle finger from who knows what. It just locks up in the bent position if I try, and then it “pops” semi-painfully when I open my fist all the way. For the most part, these aches in my hands and feet start to go away as I start to move. But there’s always some level of ache to them, and I’m constantly stretching my fingers and toes throughout the day.

The next thing I usually notice when I wake up is a pain in my spine. The location varies, but it’s usually always a sharp ache somewhere along my spine. Some days it’s worse … some days it’s better … but most days it’s always there. It started shortly after my oophorectomy, and I can only thus attribute it to the severe withdraw of estrogen. In addition to these usual suspects, most often there’s something new each day. An ache, throb, pain, twitch, creak, pop, stab, pulse, twang, knot, crack, pressure, weight … you name it … somewhere else in my body. Big deal right? Everyone has regular aches and pains. I get it. And it’s not the creakiness and errant odd feeling that bother me so much as it is what it does to me mentally. Being in treatment causes me to be hyper aware of my physical state. As someone who was already hyper aware of her physical state in general … this takes it to a whole new level. Each “thing” I feel, I carry with it a monitoring. When did I first notice it? Is it getting better or worse? How long has it been? Do I need to bring it up to my doctor? Is it something … no—it’s nothing … or is it something? It’s a constant assessment of my physical state day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute … over and over again … worrying if it’s progression … if things are just running rampant inside during this period of in-between scans. And then, when I don’t feel anything, I wonder why and worry even more about why I can’t feel anything. It gets exhausting. But I keep going, every day assessing quietly and taking a mental catalog as each day goes on. And that’s just below the neck activity. Layer on top of that, the situation with the brain. Every headache, every ANYthing I feel in or around my head—or anything anywhere else in my body—is there something going on in my brain that’s causing this? Is it a dehydration headache or something more? Am I going to go down in a seizure right here and now? UGH.

In addition to this physical assessment, there’s the daily fatigue. Having low counts in your blood causes fatigue. I’m tired. I usually make it to just past 9 p.m. before I’m crawling in bed myself and am passed out shortly thereafter. If I stop moving, I will fall asleep. I’m sure of it. So I keep busy as much as possible, either physically or mentally. I just keep going. I’m up with the boys at 7 a.m. usually and in bed shortly after the oldest goes down at 9 p.m. Most of the time I’ve got energy enough to keep going full steam all day. But some days, a big outing is enough to slow me down, and I end up wanting to nap with the boys when we get home.

So there’s the physical part, the mental part of the physical part, the mental part of the mental part, and the fatigue. And then there’s Fear. Is eating “this” feeding the cancer? Should I be doing more? What if what I’m doing now is making things worse? How long will what I’m doing work? Will I have to have IV chemo again … or worse? Any regular conversation that talks about the future: future plans, future milestones for the boys, future vacations, future anything … it’s all haunted by the fear. Will I be around to see these plans come to fruition? How long am going to feel “good?” Will I be around to see my boys start school … start middle school … high school? Do I dare to dream  … dare to hope … that I get to see at least one of my sons get married? The fear isn’t always front and center … no. It’s most often a passing thought … an errant question that runs through my head quickly in the moment … a hypothetical visualization of who and how I might be, or who and how I fear I might be. A shadow that follows my thoughts. It’s there when I look at Nicholas and wonder … does he look so much like me because I’m not going to be around much longer? Is he my mini-me for a reason? Or is it purely just genetics. And if it’s not just genetics, and if something does happen to me, will Mike, in time, be able to look at his sons without significant pain in his heart? And my boys: I can’t even touch those thoughts about them growing up without me.

I wonder about this and many, many other things. And I worry every day. But I won’t go much farther down this path. These are things I don’t talk about for a reason. There are things that come with the territory unfortunately, and, well, there’s no use dwelling on them. No use losing the present to fear and worry. So I let go of what I can and shove that which I can’t, down into the depths, until I’m able to let it go.

Melissa with her family.

These last few weeks have been seriously trying. The “questionable leptomeningeal enhancement” on my brain MRI in August had us all in a serious frenzy. The suggestion of it at my initial neuro appointment injured my spirit in so many ways. It brought Fear front and center. But thankfully, my rainwater cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) came back 100% normal. My neuro onc at this most recent appointment said it would be one thing if it was “mostly” normal, with some things slightly abnormal, but mine coming back 100% normal was a good thing. He reviewed my follow-up brain MRI, and Mike and I stood anxiously over his shoulder. I’m watching the scans and watching his eyes and expression as he’s reviewing, trying to get a read on his reaction to what he’s seeing. And then he pushed back from the computer screen (he sits about eight inches away from the screen when he reviews images), takes his glasses off and says, “I don’t see anything here to get excited about.” And then suddenly I feel SO MUCH LIGHTER. I breathe. And I tremble with relief. I grab Mike’s arm. I just grab him. And I get back to myself and start to ask questions. What about the questionable LMD spot, left temporal left cerebellum region? You don’t see that? He puts his glasses back on, scoots up to the computer and looks again. He swaps out views, scrolls, swaps out more views, scrolls some more. No he says. And I don’t remember much detail after that.

Overall, he concluded that things look normal for me. Two spots of the three spots are identifiable, but smaller and stable. One spot he can’t even find anymore. The questionable LMD area is not there. “Most likely a vein” the radiologist’s report said. So we breathe finally. And we are thankful. So very, very thankful.

I re-scan in two months, which is back in sequence with my regular timing for my 3 month interval PET CT and brain MRI. I started cycle 7 of Ibrance with Letrozole, received my monthly injection in the belly, all with sincere hopes that it continues to work much longer (aka forever). I started back at work this month as well, which I’m excited about, to get back into some normal life again.

And above all else—every day, every moment—with every breath, I give sincere thanks for waking up each day and I dare to hope, just a little bit more. Each time I hug my babies or hold Mike’s hand, I dare to hope that I get the chance to grow old.


Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Week

Until 2009, metastatic breast cancer was not often mentioned during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nine metastatic breast cancer patients, including one of YSC’s early members, Randi Rosenberg, traveled to Washington, D.C. to change that. Their efforts resulted in the passing of a unanimous resolution by Congress declaring October 13 as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

Metastatic (or stage IV) breast cancer is when cancer has left the breast and surrounding local area and moved to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, bones or brain. Once it has metastasized, there is no cure for breast cancer. The disease turns into a chronic condition with the goal to contain it for as long as possible. Every year, more than 1,000 women under age 40 die from breast cancer. That’s why we’re dedicating this entire week to raising awareness of metastatic breast cancer and advocating for more research on metastatic disease by featuring women who know firsthand what life is like living with stage IV.

Join us every day this week for new blog posts from young women living with metastatic breast cancer or experts on metastatic research.

Please sign our #12Ktoomany petition now.
Our goal is to collect 12,000 signatures to represent the 12,000 young women who will be diagnosed under 40 this year in the US. We’re urging the new President to focus at least 50% of research dollars to examine metastasis in young women, including how to cure metastasis and how to prevent it.

Let’s dare to hope together with Melissa, and other young women facing metastatic breast cancer, who deserve the chance to grow old.

 

 

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Living Life OVER Cancer

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 30 while seven months pregnant with our second son. Our world came crashing down–yet through it all, we were focused on hope. Our doctors, friends and family–everyone–believed we would “beat” cancer. And, we did.

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Lara is an avid runner. Each year nearly 200 runners hit the streets of Louisville as the Outrunning Cancer charity team in the Kentucky Derby Marathon. Their success earned them “Charity of the year” two years in a row and raised the most money of any local charity involved!

I was the poster child for beating cancer. Literally–I was on a poster for my local Komen Foundation. I ran marathons, climbed mountains, raised my kids with joy and confidence that cancer was behind us. I turned this scary time in my life into something positive to help others by starting a nonprofit organization called Hope Scarves. We collect scarves and survivor stories and pass them on to others in treatment. Since our founding in 2012, we have sent more than 6,000 scarves to people facing over 90 types of cancer in every state and 12 countries. Our oldest recipient is 92 and our youngest, 5. By sharing our stories, we find common ground and process what has happened. We pass along our strength to others.

Yet, in those first years, Hope Scarves was just like so many other cancer organizations blindly telling the “happy side” of cancer. We were focused on survivorship. At a YSC conference in New Orleans, a mother donated a scarf and story in memory of her daughter who had died of breast cancer. I kindly took the story and hugged this shaking mom. But, I tucked that story away, thinking, “We are hope scarves. Not sorry-for-your-loss scarves.” I didn’t want to share sad stories.

How short sighted of me.

In 2014, I developed pain in my low back, which I assumed was from trail running. But, an MRI revealed every cancer survivor’s worst nightmare. Metastatic breast cancer. Cancer had spread to my bones. After seven glorious years, our family was thrust back into the world of cancer. Only this time it wasn’t hopeful. My husband and I have always been the type of people who make a plan and execute. We get things done. But, there wasn’t a clear path. We were devastated to learn my treatment plans would be to “wait and see.” “We will start with this drug and see how long it holds the cancer in check. But, it will progress and then we will try a different treatment. There are many drugs to try, but eventually we will run out of options…“

Confusion. Disbelief.

After all the pinkness–the races, the walks, the soup cans and our society doing just about every possible thing you can imagine “for a cure”…this is the best you’ve got? I was floored. Angry, depressed, numb. How could this be? I fell into a dark depression. I would be responsible for the single most devastating thing my young kids would experience–watching their mom get sick and die. How could this be happening? This diagnosis was nothing like my stage II diagnosis,when people came out of the woodwork to encourage me and share their success stories. This diagnosis was isolating. Terrifying.

Then, I met Mary Ann. She also had MBC, but her laughter and smile didn’t show it. Mary Ann grabbed both my hands, looked me in the eye and said, “If you had five minutes to live, would you spend a second being sad?” She helped me see hope isn’t just found in medical breakthroughs and good scans. It’s found in a hug, laughter and simple moments of living life over cancer. Mary Ann helped me live again.

Mary Ann died this year. 

As I watched friend after friend progress with this disease, I found organizations and people who were working to change the landscape of metastatic breast cancer. I also learned that people in the metastatic community felt so disappointed and left behind by the “pink machine” that they created their own ribbon–it’s teal and purple with a little pink. They created new names like metavivor, forever fighter, lifer. They are defining what it means to live with stage IV cancer.

I am so thankful for their work and the growing movement to bring metastatic breast cancer to the forefront, but more than anything I am upset. The most sick, afraid and hurting of all breast cancer patients felt so alienated by the movement set out to help them that they created their own ribbon. They condemn the pink ribbon. How did an effort set out to “cure breast cancer” become so short sighted?  

And, I was one of them. I was naively focused on survivorship and beating cancer at Hope Scarves–sharing happy stories of people who kicked cancer and went on to live happy, healthy lives.

So, starting with my own organization, I made changes. We stopped saying words like “beat cancer” and instead, we say, “face cancer.” We don’t collect survivor stories at some magical point when you move from a patient to a survivor. No, you can share your words of encouragement and hope at any point. From the moment cancer touches your life, you are surviving. You have a story to tell.

It’s not about living life after cancer. It’s about living life over cancer.

But, more than anything it comes down to research. We expanded Hope Scarves’ mission to invest in metastatic breast cancer research. And, to date, we have committed $150,000. Think of the impact we could make if EVERY breast cancer organization dedicated a portion to metastatic breast cancer research. How quickly the depressing 3% given to research would increase. Could we accelerate the pace of discovery to change treatment plans from waiting for the cancer to grow to stopping it? Could we extend lives? Could we save lives?

What if, instead of metastatic patients feeling alienated, they become the VERY CORE of the pink movement? The deepest, most vibrant pink of all. Early stage survivors would celebrate their health and then DEMAND more money for metastatic research. Because the reality is, once cancer impacts you, the chance of reoccurrence is 30%. It doesn’t matter what stage you were originally diagnosed or how long time passes. But, if research can find a way to make this a chronic disease instead of a DEADLY disease–every one of us in pink is better off.

We, as a breast cancer community, HAVE TO BE the driving force to make this happen. We can’t just celebrate the happy stories. We must tell the WHOLE STORY.

My goal is simple–I want metastatic patients to be the core of the breast cancer movement. For each of us to feel supported through more research dollars, encouraged by early stage survivors, understood and not forgotten.

Raise your voice. Demand more money for metastatic breast cancer research. Reach out to someone facing stage IV breast cancer.

Together, we can ALL live life over cancer.


Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Week

Until 2009, metastatic breast cancer was not often mentioned during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nine metastatic breast cancer patients, including one of YSC’s early members, Randi Rosenberg, traveled to Washington, D.C. to change that. Their efforts resulted in the passing of a unanimous resolution by Congress declaring October 13 as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

Metastatic (or stage IV) breast cancer is when cancer has left the breast and surrounding local area and moved to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, bones or brain. Once it has metastasized, there is no cure for breast cancer. The disease turns into a chronic condition with the goal to contain it for as long as possible. Every year, more than 1,000 women under age 40 die from breast cancer. That’s why we’re dedicating this entire week to raising awareness of metastatic breast cancer and advocating for more research on metastatic disease by featuring women who know firsthand what life is like living with stage IV.

Join us every day this week for new blog posts from young women living with metastatic breast cancer or experts on metastatic research.

Please sign our #12Ktoomany petition now.
Our goal is to collect 12,000 signatures to represent the 12,000 young women who will be diagnosed under 40 this year in the US. We’re urging the new President to focus at least 50% of research dollars to examine metastasis in young women, including how to cure metastasis and how to prevent it.

And as Lara so eloquently stated “Together, we can ALL live life over cancer.”

 

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The Hard Part is Living First

Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer you’d never think of there being worse news…until you’re diagnosed with cancer again. Feels something like this, ‘Hey you’ve reached the light at the end of the tunnel! You see it? Looks nice out there, right? Now turn your a** around.’

In May of this year, I had my reconstructive breast surgery. I was starting to feel like myself again and this surgery symbolized the last step, “the light at the end of the tunnel.” About two weeks later I had a follow-up with my Oncologist. Some routine blood work led to a pet scan and a biopsy of my liver, which showed metastasis. Needless to say I was devastated. The thought of recurrence had never even crossed my mind. I truly believed I could put it all behind me and move on. I was wrong.

After the flashbacks of bald heads seised, I began doing research–reading anything and everything about metastatic breast cancer. The more I read, the more scared I became. I was becoming painfully aware that this disease could take years off of my life and many milestones with it. But I also gained a sense of control. Ya know that whole knowledge is power thing.

What I discovered is I am not alone. There are many treatment options and the list is often growing. Countless clinical trials are available, and most importantly there are women thriving with MBC. I found hope.

For those who know me, I am the queen of optimism and if there’s a silver lining I will find it. And so I did. I came to the comforting realization that I am no different than anyone else. I am mortal. You’re thinking, how the hell is that comforting right? Look at it this way, nobody knows what comes next. We’re all in the same unsteady boat. Maybe because I have metastatic cancer, the future is bullying me into the present more than you, but what we have is the same.

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My F*ck Cancer trip to Disney!

Cancer or no cancer, as you read this, this very moment, this is it. Only, I have become more sensitive to it. Maybe I’ve been given a chance to let go of the future in order to focus on the now. Maybe I’ve been given an opportunity to make my future plans my present. This is something anyone can do, you may even be doing it. But I think so many of us sleep-walk through life, waiting for something to wake us up. Stage IV breast cancer woke me up.

I think what I’m getting at is that I may be sick and I may not have 30, 20 or 10 years ahead of me, but you may not either. Is it scary? Yeah. But do you live in fear of dying every day? Most likely not. So why should I? We’re all inevitably going to die. The hard part is living first.

I look at this diagnosis as an opportunity and a clean slate. To live the life I want. To spend the time I have doing things that bring me joy and to cherish each moment. I am focusing on today, on what’s important to me and on being a better and kinder person to those who are important to me. It’s certainly not easy but it’s the life I’ve been given and there’s no way I’m going to waste it.

 

 


Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Week

Until 2009, metastatic breast cancer was not often mentioned during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nine metastatic breast cancer patients, including one of YSC’s early members, Randi Rosenberg, traveled to Washington, D.C. to change that. Their efforts resulted in the passing of a unanimous resolution by Congress declaring October 13 as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

Metastatic (or stage IV) breast cancer is when cancer has left the breast and surrounding local area and moved to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, bones or brain. Once it has metastasized, there is no cure for breast cancer. The disease turns into a chronic condition with the goal to contain it for as long as possible. Every year, more than 1,000 women under age 40 die from breast cancer. That’s why we’re dedicating this entire week to raising awareness of metastatic breast cancer and advocating for more research on metastatic disease by featuring women who know firsthand what life is like living with stage IV.

Join us every day this week for new blog posts from young women living with metastatic breast cancer or experts on metastatic research.

Please sign our #12Ktoomany petition now.
Our goal is to collect 12,000 signatures to represent the 12,000 young women who will be diagnosed under 40 this year in the US. We’re urging the new President to focus at least 50% of research dollars to examine metastasis in young women, including how to cure metastasis and how to prevent it.

Together, we can help young women like Allie.

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Nine Reasons To Turn Breast Cancer Awareness Into Action

“I carry the sadness of breast cancer every day. This sadness and pain continually moves me to action and advocacy, for a cure and for better quality of life for those affected by breast cancer.” - Jennifer, diagnosed at 32

“I carry the sadness of breast cancer every day. This sadness and pain continually moves me to action and advocacy, for a cure and for better quality of life for those affected by breast cancer.” – Jennifer, diagnosed at 32

I think it’s pretty safe to say we’re all aware that tomorrow marks the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You’re probably reading this wondering what YSC has in store this year as we take the stage and raise our voices to the world on behalf of all young women facing breast cancer.

This year is especially important. Breast cancer is officially an epidemic, with an annual increase in incidence of 3.1%. Young women make up 33% of global diagnoses, and women of reproductive age are dying from breast cancer at an annual increase of 1.8% per year.1  Letting people know that young women can and do get breast cancer just isn’t enough. This year alone, more than 12,000 women under 40 will be diagnosed in the U.S.2

We need to do more. That’s why this October we’re on a mission to turn awareness into action to change the statistics. Together, we’re going to drive the medical and research communities to focus more research on women under 40—especially those with metastatic breast cancer—to ensure that young women stop dying from this disease. 

 

Here are nine startling reasons why you MUST join us this month by signing our #12Ktoomany petition

1.) Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women ages 15-39.3 And yet, breast cancer in young women is rarely studied. We have only made incremental strides toward understanding the environmental factors (internal and external) that cause breast cancer in young women and how to best treat them.

2.) There is no effective breast cancer screening tool for women under 40, most of whom have dense breast tissue that prevents routine mammograms from being a useful screening tool. Nearly 80% of young women diagnosed with breast cancer find their breast abnormality themselves.4

3.) More and more evidence tells us that breast cancer before age 40 differs biologically from the cancer faced by older women.5 This means we need different treatment options.

4.) Breast cancer in women under 40 is more aggressive.6 Young women face greater mortality rates and an increased risk of metastatic (or stage IV) recurrence, which is when cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

5.) There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. Every year, more than 1,000 women under age 40 die from breast cancer.2 

6.) Breast cancer treatments like chemotherapy negatively affect fertility. Doctors don’t always discuss the potential fertility risks with their young patients before treatment, but they should.

7.) Breast cancer treatment brings unique, significant side effects for young women, including the possibility of early menopause, sexual dysfunction and a higher prevalence of psychosocial issues like anxiety and depression.7

8.) Breast cancer disproportionately affects young African American women. African American women under age 35 have rates of breast cancer two times higher than caucasian women under age 35, and they die from breast cancer three times as often.8

9.) Vice President Biden’s Moonshot Advisory Panel recently issued its top ten opportunities in cancer research. While identifying pediatric cancer as an appropriate area to focus, it completely overlooked and failed to mention adolescent and young adults (AYAs), ages 15 to 39.

We’re collecting 12,000 signatures to support our #12Ktoomany initiative, representing the number of young women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. In January, we’ll present it to the new President of the United States. Whether you are a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer, love a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer, or just care about putting a stop to this disease, I hope you’ll sign. It only takes a minute, and it can make a huge difference. 

To sign the petition, visit petition.youngsurvival.org

We also partnered with renowned photographer, Spencer Kohn, on a photo series where breast cancer survivors confront their struggles. In their portraits, we see the external: the face that society sees. Strong, beautiful, but a mask. When they look in the mirror, we see the truth—a reflection of breast cancer’s collateral damage on these young women.

Zach Jopling, a Brooklyn-based DP and editor, captured the stories and experiences of these breast cancer survivor models in a powerful video. 

We’ll be sharing these incredible photos and quotes from each survivor model every day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Follow along, engage, share and help us spread the word!


Citations
1 Forouzanfar M et al., “Breast and cervical cancer in 187 countries between 1980 and 2010: a systematic analysis,” Lancet 2011; 378: 1461-84.
2 American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2015-2016.

3 Archie Bleyer et al., “The distinctive biology of cancer in adolescents and young adults,” Nature Reviews Cancer 8 (2008).

4 Ruddy, K. et al., “Presentation of breast cancer in young women,” Journal of Clinical Oncology 27:15S (2009).
http://hwmaint.meeting.ascopubs.org/cgi/content/abstract/27/15S/6608

5 Ann H. Partridge et al., “Breast Cancer in Younger Women,” Diseases of the Breast (4th ed.,), In J. Harris (Ed.) (2010): 1073-1083.

6 Carey K. Anders et al., “Breast Carcinomas Arising at a Young Age: Unique Biology or a Surrogate for Aggressive Intrinsic Subtypes?” Journal of Clinical Oncology 29:1 (2011). Carey K. Anders et al., “Young Age at Diagnosis Correlates with Worse Prognosis and Defines a Subset of Breast Cancers with Shared Patterns of Gene Expression,” Journal of Clinical Oncology 26:20 (2008).

7 Bakewell RT, Volker DL, Sexual dysfunction related to the treatment of young women with breast cancer. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2005: (6): 697-702. Howard-Anderson J, Ganz PA, Bower JE, Stanton, AL. Quality of life, fertility concerns, and behavioral health outcomes in younger breast cancer survivors; a systematic review. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012; 104(5): 386-405. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djr541.

8 Lisa A. Carey. et al., “Race, Breast Cancer Subtypes, and Survival in the Carolina Breast Cancer Study,” Journal of the American Medical Association 295, no. 21 (2006): 2492-2502.

 

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Categories: News & Updates

Shakti and Bhakti – Our Feminine Super Powers!

Sat Nam

What do the following women have in common?

Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Natasha Ramanova (Black Widow from The Avengers), Rey (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), and Princess Merida (Disney’s Brave).

Well, as you may have correctly answered that they’re all contemporary fictional super-women known for their determined spirit and awesome “kick-butt” fighting skills. More importantly, I believe, these women exemplify the courage, strength and fortitude inspired by real world warriors and fighters; women who have boldly faced or are facing unwarranted trials and challenges; extraordinary heroines like yourselves.

Additionally, ancient yogic wisdom also teaches that besides the formidable abilities noted above, we, as women, have a particularly magnificent ability to positively influence and shape our lives, bodies and environment.  That ability comes through our divine feminine energies known as Shakti and Bhakti.

 

Shakit and Bhakti

Shakti and Bhakti are two distinguishable creative powers within every woman that can be defined as:

Shakti refers to the power of the universe that gives women the strength and courage to be fearless and natural agents of change.

Bhakti refers to devotion, selflessness, humility and reverence; it is this power that reminds us to be of service to higher causes and purposes.

In essence, Shakti and Bhakti are the perfect duality of our highest nature: strength and tenderness; courage and humility; influence and devotion. When we become aware of these essences and subtle powers, we can then channel them heal any and all pain and disease. We can also harness their energy to positively influence our bodies, our reality and ourselves.

 

Calling Upon These Innate Powers

How can we call upon these innate powers so we can willfully integrate them in our daily living and being?  Well, I know of no other more effective method than through Kundalini Yoga and Meditation. For almost 2 decades now, I’ve been practicing and teaching this powerful yoga to others at City of Hope, where I’m the Geriatric Oncology Social Work Program Leader. Additionally, I practice and teach at other yoga studios and community centers in and around Los Angeles. Yogi Bhajan, a master of this technology from India, brought this yoga to us in 1969.

 

Kundalini Bhakti Meditation

One of the most powerful meditations taught to us by Yogi Bhajan is commonly referred to as the “Kundalini Bhakti Meditation (Adi Shakti Namo Namo).”  Kundalini Bhakti Meditation utilizes a devotional mantra (sacred sound recitation) to invoke the universal feminine creative power and awaken the Shakti and Bhakti powers within us.

Join me as I guide you through this beautiful meditation. Through this medication, you can can begin to immediately connect and intentionally apply these sacred super forces. Meditation helps to dissolve limiting belief thoughts and radiantly charge your entire being to help you face all of life’s challenges (and evil villains ) with renewed hope, vigor, strength and courage.

May you always Blossom, Shine, and Thrive!

 


Thank you Daisy Yogini for sharing this powerful meditation with us!
Daisy is joining us at the YSC West Regional Symposium on November 5 in Long Beach, CA. Join us for yoga on the beach at Hotel Maya and learn first hand the creative powers of Shakti and Bhakit!
There are still a limited number of tickets available, register now.
Free hotel accommodations available on a first come, first serve basis for anyone traveling more than 25 miles to attend.

 

 

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A Little Goes A Long Way

All Shapes and Sizes

I’ve worked with many incredible DIY fundraisers over the last year at YSC. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are professionals looking to spread awareness in their offices while others want to find a fun way to engage their sorority sisters for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But every once in awhile, an extra special someone comes along that makes you stop and think “wow, that’s amazing!” For me, that person is Reese.  

A Huge Champion In A Tiny Package
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Reese is an extra special DIY Fundraiser

Over the past few years I’ve been interested in donating to charities. It started out by donating to this charity in Canada called WAG (Whistler Animals Galore), but sometime last year I expressed the desire to help out a breast cancer charity. I never really said anything to anybody, but spent plenty of time thinking of a way I could raise money. In May of this year, I started thinking about what to do for my birthday…

I was thinking big — a limo, laser tag and the presents I would get! But then I thought to myself that I don’t really need anymore gifts. The money used to buy those presents could go to a cause rather than to satisfy my immediate wants and short-term happiness. What I did find, though, is that what I did this year instead of getting presents did make me happy. In fact, it might have made me even happier than getting presents!

While looking for an organization to support, I found a lot that I liked, but YSC stood out – especially because it supports young women. Being a young woman myself, I understand that “knowing is not enough.” I wanted to do something and support them. So I donated all my birthday money to YSC.
-Reese Weiden, age 12

Just Imagine…

Reese did in fact donate all the money she raised for her birthday instead of receiving gifts from friends and family. In total, she raised $397.25. You may not think this is a lot, but we know for a fact that this goes along way in helping YSC sustain and expand its programs. Thanks to Reese, we were able to provide 40 young women recently diagnosed with breast cancer our Newly Diagnosed Navigator. Now that’s a big deal!

Can you imagine what would happen if everyone who has benefited from YSC’s programs decided to be like Reese and hosted an easy DIY Fundraiser? We could reach so many young women affected by breast cancer! After all, 12,000 young women this year alone will be diagnosed in the US. So ask yourself as October 1 quickly approaches… “what can I do?” The answer is easy – anything!

So go bowling, make cookies, get crafty or just say “you know what, I don’t need birthday gifts this year.” You may surprise yourself by how happy you feel afterwards. Like I’ve been saying all month – Anyone Can Be A YSC Champion, especially YOU.

Learn more about how to become a YSC Champion, just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or support a current Champion today!

 

 

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Categories: YSC Champions

Sex and Intimacy after Breast Cancer: Q&A with a Sex Therapist

What are some of the common issues that young breast cancer survivors face in relation to sexuality and intimacy? What are the questions and issues that come up most often?

Among women I’ve talked to, the most common issue that young survivors bring up is not feeling “sexy” anymore or feeling like they’ve “aged 10 years.” This is so understandable, since breast cancer is such a physically and emotionally taxing experience that changes so many aspects of a woman’s life.

Why is it important to give attention to this topic? What role does sexuality and intimacy play in young survivors’ lives? What are some of the effects of cancer treatment and how does it affect quality of life in relation to this aspect of their lives?

Sexuality and intimacy are often hugely important parts of adult romantic relationships. Studies show that sexual satisfaction is strongly tied to overall intimate relationship quality and satisfaction for both men and women. So the ability to have a satisfying intimate life is integral to relationship functioning.

Remember, sexual interest varies from person to person and couple to couple, so it’s not about living up to some ideal, but about finding a level of sexual connection that works for you. In addition, sexuality is a key component of self-concept for many people, and a source of pleasure and connection in life.

What are some of your tips to resolve the issues? What can women do to improve their sexual functioning after breast cancer?

Breast cancer affects multiple domains of sex and intimacy. There can be physical, emotional, psychological and relational aspects of these effects. For example, a woman might have physical issues such as pain with intercourse and low desire, but she may also experience emotional issues such as sadness or embarrassment, and relational issues such as difficulty communicating with a partner about her intimacy concerns. Each of these domains deserves attention.

Here are some specific tips for addressing concerns in each domain:

Physical:

Be as good to yourself as possible. Eat well, sleep and exercise to help with energy, mood and coping.

Find sexual and intimate activities that are comfortable and pleasurable for you right now. Expand your definition of what intimacy is – it doesn’t have to include intercourse or orgasms; maybe it’s more like spooning or massages or whatever else you find comfortable and connecting.

If you have specific physical symptoms like pain or dryness, talk to your doctor about what you can do to address them.

If you have low desire for sex, consider “starting from neutral” with an activity you’ve identified that you might like and see how it feels. You may not need to have desire before you start.

Emotional:

Explore and process your emotions – using journaling, mindfulness, talking to supportive friends, family or professionals – rather than suppressing them or brushing them aside.

Psychological:

Become aware of unkind or unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about yourself and work to change them. For example, “I’ll never feel sexy again” is not helpful and likely not true. A more helpful thought might be “I don’t feel sexy now, but with time and trying a few things, I intend to get back to feeling sexy when I want to.”

Relational:

Communicate. Talk to your partner about your feelings and listen to your partner’s input as well. Breast cancer is a lot to process and you may need to have ongoing conversations about it.

If there are difficult topics that you want to talk about with a partner, it can be helpful to write down what you want to say in advance to help clarify your thoughts.

Use “I” statements to express your feelings. For example, “I feel upset when you want sex and I don’t,” rather than, “You make me upset when you pressure me to have sex.”


About Erica Marchand, PhD

Dr. Marchand is a licensed psychologist specializing in sexual and relationship concerns. She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Oregon, and arrived in sunny Los Angeles in 2010 for postdoctoral training at UCLA. Dr. Marchand has conducted research in the areas of family influences on sexual behavior and sexual adjustment after cancer. She helped to develop and deliver a workshop called Life after Breast Cancer in her role as Project Scientist at UCLA. She’s also currently co-authoring a book chapter called ‘Sex and Cancer’ in the Textbook of Clinical Sexual Medicine, due out next year.

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Erica Marchand will explore how to come to terms with your new normal after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Come meet Dr. Marchand at the first YSC West Regional Symposium in Long Beach, CA! She’ll be leading a session called Relationships and Intimacy: Your Body Now. Dr. Marchand will discuss how to see and embrace the strength and beauty of your body now and in the future.

Early bird tickets for the Symposium are only $30 through Thursday 9/22. Don’t miss out on an incredible day of learning, networking and fun. Learn more here.

Tickets include breakfast, lunch, dinner and evening dance party.

 

 

 

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Turn Your Passion Into Support

Do What You Love While Supporting YSC

It’s been an awesome month so far as we honor our many YSC Champions. These incredible individuals take time from their busy lives to help spread awareness that young women can and do get breast cancer. They go above and beyond by hosting DIY fundraisers to help us sustain and expand essential programs. What you may not realize is that many YSC Champions are breast cancer survivors themselves. Some are newly diagnosed, some are figuring out their “new” normal, while others are celebrating cancerversaries. But each champion has one thing in common—they do it out of love and, many times, they do what they love!

Allison Vitsky is one of these incredible YSC Champions. She found a unique way to do exactly what she loves to raise funds for the organization that supported her through the toughest time of her life. Her photo series tells her very special Survivor Story on this week’s YSC Champion Highlight.

 

Diving Is My Thing

I received my first scuba certification in 1992, just after I had graduated college – a gift from my mom and dad.  Little did they know what this would unleash!  I lived near the ocean most of my life and loved swimming, but scuba diving was not even on my radar. I had no clue how much I would love it, even during the class. The gear was heavy and seemed very constricting, but the moment my head went underwater for the first time, it was like a switch flipped – the world suddenly seemed so big! I think that’s why I love it so much. It reveals a side of the planet that we can’t see from the surface, but is so integral and critically important to all of us. Being underwater is the most peaceful, centering experience I know.

 

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Me during chemo in 2003

The Reality of Breast Cancer

At the time of my breast cancer diagnosis, I was 33 and living in Boston, MA during my postdoctoral fellowship. As I was showering one day, I put my hand on my left breast and felt a mass. I had concurrent feelings of abject terror and scoffing denial (“I’m too young, it’s probably nothing.”) I went to the physician and had to push for the appropriate diagnostics. Within three weeks, I had a breast cancer diagnosis.

I ended up accepting a position at a local company because the student insurance plan I had was tough to navigate. My first day at that job was actually about 9 days after my first chemo treatment. Most of my coworkers actually met me when I was bald–that was a little crazy!

I dealt many of the unique issues young women diagnosed with breast cancer face. A rush to decide whether I wanted kids someday, friends who couldn’t handle my diagnosis and the fact that I was often the youngest person in the oncology waiting room. These issues are so isolating. I was so lucky to find the Young Survival Coalition. I sent them an email

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Silly promotion shot for Dive into the Pink.

and within days, I no longer felt so alone. There was a very strong YSC group in Boston and I was embraced by a group of young women who were there to answer questions, support me and keep my spirits up. I will forever be grateful to YSC and that group of young women.

 

Getting Back to What I Love

I started diving again as soon as I finished chemo and healed from surgery.  I had only dived in warm water up until my diagnosis. But afterwards, I received training to use specialized exposure gear for colder water so I could dive close to home. My goal was for diving to become a weekend activity instead of a vacation-only one! By 2004, I was an avid cold water diver, even when things were very cold–climbing over snow to get to the ocean, thawing out the icicles in my hair, that kind of ridiculous stuff. A few years later, I moved to California, where the water is still cold, but at least I’m not thawing out my hair every time I complete a dive in January!    

 

Southern California divers (from left to right) Anastasia Laity, Nayan Savla, and Dana Rodda enthusiastically participated in the "pilot" charter in October 2015.

Southern California divers have fun at the 2015 Dive into the Pink.

How It All Started

I was diagnosed in October of 2003, which also happens to be breast cancer awareness month. There’s absolutely no way for me to escape the reminder of my diagnosis. I always felt drawn to what was goings on during this time of year. Breast cancer runs and walks seem to occupy every weekend of the month. But I always feel more drawn to getting on a dive boat, because it’s generally accepted that autumn has the best diving conditions in California. Every weekend in October, I’d guiltily pass groups of pink-clad survivors on my way to boarding a boat and getting underwater.

Last year, tired of feeling guilty, I created a breast cancer dive day. I chartered a local dive boat, packed some pink diving gear and told all my friends that I’d like to see a boat full of pinked-out divers. Voila! Dive into the Pink was born. It was surprisingly easy to plan and execute. The boat spots sold out (18 divers, plus my husband and I) and people were really enthusiastic. The day of the event, divers were posting to social media that received a lot of positive attention. People seemed genuinely excited to be able to dive for a larger purpose. 

 

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Divers at the 2015 Dive Into The Pink!

What’s Next For Dive into the Pink

This year has been a whirlwind since Dive Into the Pink started. We initially had two dive charters planned for Fall 2016, but they sold out so rapidly that we had to add a third. We’ve worked with a few dive gear companies to create special “swag” for all participants. We also coordinated with excellent charter operations to make sure each dive is uncrowded and personalized. 

Beyond our organized dives, we worked with Prawno Apparel, an amazing company, to create a fantastic limited-edition t-shirt. We’ve also been approached by other companies for dive travel and gear as well as fitness consultants, jewelry and others offering swag donations. Some larger donations were are featured on an online auction that will open on October 1.

 

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Doing what I love!

Next year may be even more exciting! You’ll have to stay tuned for that, though. I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it weren’t for Young Survival Coalition. Dive into the Pink wouldn’t be able to plan events without the incredibly generous and truly caring support from the dive community as a whole. It’s my hope that we’ll be able to continue harnessing that support as Dive into the Pink grows so that young breast cancer patients know they are not alone!

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Easy ways you can turn your passion into support

Thank you Allison, for turning your passion into an incredible event to help spread awareness of the critical issues unique to young women diagnosed with breast cancer. Thanks to Dive into the Pink, YSC is able to reach more young survivors and provide them with support and empowerment.

It just goes to show that anyone can create a DIY fundraiser and have an awesome time while doing it! Some of the best fundraisers are those that focus on the activities you love to do anyway. Whether you love to run, bike, walk, hike, play baseball, softball, basketball, football or soccer, dance, sing or dive–you really can create a unique event that combines your passion with a way to generate essential funds for YSC.

Become a YSC Champion today. Help us spread awareness and raise money to support more young survivors and women living with metastatic breast cancer.

Learn more about YSC Champions!

 

 

 

 

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The Trip of a Lifetime

A little under a year ago I won the trip of a lifetime.

On a last minute whim, I decided to enter the 2015 We Can Survive concert sweepstakes. When I first received the call to notify me that I’d won, I was a little skeptical that this was a legit call! At the time, I didn’t realize that by answering the call I’d be embarking on an unforgettable trip.

Everyone at YSC was wonderful and very helpful as we planned the trip, even helping me to arrange travel plans so I didn’t have to miss work. The next question was who should I bring? That one was easy — my wonderful husband, my Co-Survivor throughout my two cancer journeys.

 

Can't believe we won the We Can Survive Concert Sweepstakes!

Can’t believe we won the We Can Survive Concert Sweepstakes!

Headed West

Together, we flew into Los Angeles on that Saturday morning to begin our adventure. We didn’t rent a car in Los Angeles and did fine using public transportation. LAX FlyAway helped us get to Hollywood, where we were staying. Our hotel was in the middle of it all! After we checked-in, we decided to explore Hollywood Boulevard and enjoy the California sun.

Since our hotel was walking distance to the Hollywood Bowl, we were able to meet up with everyone from YSC and walk to the concert together. The concert was amazing! We were VIP guests, so we hung out in a special VIP area enjoying drinks and food before the concert. The lineup was amazing — The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Maroon 5, Sam Smith, 5 Seconds of Summer, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas. The show opened and it was as good as expected, but they kept hinting at a surprise guest.  At the end of the show, we were treated to a surprise performance by Rihanna!

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Wishing Miranda and Abigail were with us!

 

 

Sunday all to ourselves.

It has always been a dream of mine to step into the Pacific Ocean, so we went to Santa Monica. We ate lunch on the Santa Monica pier while exploring the area. After that, we walked along the beach stepping foot in the Pacific Ocean. Even though our daughters weren’t able to come with us, we decided to write their names in the sand which looked out at the ocean. My husband and I then walked along the coast all the way to Venice Beach enjoying the ocean and views.

 

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Thank you Young Survival Coalition!

Headed home.

Before long, it was time to go home. After a weekend in Hollywood, it was time to head back home with the wonderful memories of a trip of a lifetime. Thank you Young Survival Coalition!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Enter to win your own Trip of a Lifetime!

The We Can Survive Concert sweepstakes is offering two free concert tickets, round-trip airfare and hotel for a young breast cancer survivor and her guest.

The sweepstakes is open to all young women diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 or younger until 11:59PM EDT on Friday, September 30 – so don’t delay, ENTER TODAY!

This year’s lineup is truly amazing, featuring Bruno Mars as well as performances by Ariana Grande, Charlie Puth, G-Eazy, Meghan Trainor, OneRepublic and Pitbull! 

 

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RISE To Advocate For Young Women Facing Breast Cancer

RISE: Respected Influences through Science and Education

It’s been nearly a year since we launched our exciting breast cancer advocacy training program: RISE. We selected 10 incredible RISE Advocates who spent the last year learning about the science of breast cancer and how to advocate for others like them who have been impacted by this disease. We’re now accepting applications for this exciting and competitive program and looking to recruit up to ten new RISE trainees for the 2017 Class.

The program covers travel costs and related expenses for RISE Advocates as they attend training or are asked to attend events and conferences to represent YSC. The three required training/conferences which must be completed over the two years of training include the NBCC Summit (May 20-23, 2017), Project LEAD (typically in July, dates not yet set) and the Alamo Scholar program at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (December 4-9, 2017). In 2017, the new class of RISE advocates will be required to attend the YSC Summit (March 10-12, 2017) for in-person training.

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RISE Advocates at Project LEAD 2016

I reached out to a few of our current RISE Advocates to learn of their experiences and how this training program has positively impacted their lives.

 

Diane Massaglia

dmassagliaPrior to becoming a RISE Advocate, I had read scientific journals and learned a fair amount of the language of breast cancer. But I never understood the HOW and WHY. Project LEAD gave me a great foundation in the science and biology of breast cancer. While at Project LEAD, I also had the opportunity to network with other advocates and interact with a group of highly esteemed doctors and researchers. For me the highlight of the week was the small group discussions with researchers, where we got to sit with researchers in an informal setting and learn about their current research work and ask lots of questions. I found the immunology presentations very interesting and all of the research and trials continues to give me hope that we will find a cure. I look forward to putting the knowledge I gained to good use as a RISE Advocate.

Rebecca Seago-Coyle

rseago-coyleA common question my friends ask me is what is breast cancer advocacy and why do I participate. First, I’m really passionate about breast cancer research. I remember sitting there waiting for the doctors to come in 6 years ago to tell me my fate and being so afraid. I don’t wish that fear on anyone so now I try to make a difference in the way that I know how. As Project Manager, I use my professional skills to build relationships and ask the right questions regarding researcher’s projects when I’m asked to sit at the table. For me, that’s advocacy. Advocacy is working not only with researchers but other advocates. We all have so much to learn and sharing the knowledge will only empower us all.  

Being a YSC RISE Advocate, I had the privilege to attend both the NBCC Summit and Project LEAD. Both of these events were electrifying as I was surrounded by like-minded people, all of whom wanted to end breast cancer. I also never knew that cancer could be so political. The information I learned at the NBCC Summit has enabled me to reach out to my friends and family and share how they can make a difference by reaching out to their state representatives. Project LEAD gave me the science background that I needed to understand whether or not what the researchers are proposing is relevant and doable.  

For me, I know that I can’t cure cancer myself, but I can be part of the solution. I’m excited to work with YSC and other advocates to keep educating myself and sharing my experiences so that we can all be part of the solution…to end breast cancer.

 

Michele Hille

mhilleI wanted to be a YSC RISE Advocate to springboard my advocacy efforts above and beyond supporting amazing women through their breast cancer journey. Halfway through the first year with RISE I can honestly say I’m well on the way.

My first task was to attend Project LEAD and what a week it was!!! Project LEAD elevated my understanding of the science, policy, and key advocacy efforts in the breast cancer world. I came away from LEAD meeting amazing survivors and advocates, an incredible understanding of all scientific aspects of breast cancer, and, most importantly, the first draft of an action plan to take my advocacy efforts to a new level. Knowledge is power and there is nothing more powerful than an army of knowledgeable breast cancer survivors!!! I’m thrilled that RISE enabled me to attend these conferences and I’m very much looking forward to working on advancing the mission of YSC and young breast cancer survivors.

 

Dana Stewart

dstewartLike many cancer survivors, much of the fear and anxiety around cancer stems from the wonders of whether or not it will come back, why it happened in the first place and will that same thing trigger cancer again. It’s been hard for me to work through these fears and I believe a lot of the reason behind that is I simply didn’t understand cancer. So, when the opportunity to go to Project LEAD was offered to me, I couldn’t pass it up. During my week at Project LEAD, I learned the ins and outs of cancer; specifically the how and why.  

I am still not an expert on cancer by any means, but now I can say I understand the basic components of cancer along with an increased understanding of how it is being fought. Project LEAD not only has helped me strengthen my abilities as a patient advocate, but it has also strengthened my ability to fight the cancer fears and anxiety that tends to hover around my mind.

 

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Join the 2017 Class of RISE Advocates

If you’re seriously interested in becoming a breast cancer advocate and want to better understand the science of breast cancer, now is your chance to apply to join the next class of RISE Advocates!

Through RISE, you’ll become an elite volunteer advocate and receive training in all aspects of breast cancer, including science, research, advocacy and policy. Once trained as a RISE Advocate, you’ll be qualified to speak intelligently and credibly on behalf of YSC and other young survivors.

RISE is open to any interested breast cancer survivor, however, preference will be given to women initially diagnosed with breast cancer under age 40 and to women who have already established connections to YSC. Applicants must reside in the United States or Canada.

RISE applicants are selected through a very competitive application process and must commit to two years of in-person and online training as well as one year of service. In total, it is a three-year commitment.

Learn more or start your application today.
Applications are due by Monday, October 31, 2016,
so start today to have the time to thoroughly complete the process. 

2016 NBCC Summit: From left to right, Medha Sutliff YSC’s Sr. Regional Field Manager (Midwest), RISE Advocates Laura D’Alessandro, Tracy Leduc, Jen Linares and Rebecca Seago-Coyle, and Michelle Esser YSC’s Sr. Program Manager for Research & Advocacy.

 

 

 

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