Building Bridges: YSC and LBBC Join Forces for May 8 Webinar for Healthcare Providers

Young Woman with Healthcare ProviderWhen a young woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, the first person she probably speaks to is a healthcare provider. Her head may be spinning with questions and decisions, but often she will have a team of professionals — an oncologist, breast surgeon, social worker and nurse navigator to name a few — who can help her move more easily through this process.

Healthcare providers may not see a young woman with breast cancer every day in their practice, but it is a population that certainly exists. Young women can and do get breast cancer. One in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer are under the age of 45, and those young women often face more aggressive forms of the disease. They are also grappling with the distinct medical and psychosocial concerns that come with a cancer diagnosis at this age.

To address these issues and to bring key players into the conversation, Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is proud to co-host a special webinar with Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) just for healthcare providers on “Understanding the Unique Needs of Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer.” The free event will take place on Wednesday May 8th from 12:00–1:00 p.m. EDT, and anyone who would like to attend can register here.
Webinar Details
Wednesday, May 8 – 1 hour
12 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. CDT/9 a.m. PDT
Register Online or call 610.645.4567
*Accessible by phone and computer
 

 

Participants will hear from a panel of knowledgeable speakers, including yours truly, Stacy Lewis, YSC’s Chief Program Officer and Deputy Chief Executive. I will be talking about how, as we approach our 15th anniversary, YSC remains the oldest, largest and most influential national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to young women affected by breast cancer. I will provide an overview of YSC’s programs and materials, as well as our most recent initiative, the Research Think Tank.

The Research Think Tank has allowed YSC to forge strong partnerships with leading healthcare providers and researchers tackling various topics concerning young women and breast cancer. It is relationships like these that emphasize the importance of continued connections with the healthcare community.

I am excited to join our other esteemed speakers, Elyse Spatz Caplan, Director of Programs and Partnerships at LBBC, and Dr. Kimlin Ashing-Giwa, Founding Director of the Center of Community Alliance for Research and Education at City of Hope Medical Center. We will discuss the results of the needs assessment LBBC recently conducted and will highlight the unique needs and concerns expressed by young women affected by breast cancer.

We hope the healthcare providers who attend this webinar will take away tips to deliver enhanced, age-appropriate care for young patients and clients, as well as learn about tailored national programs and resources for young women from LBBC and YSC. Join us to discuss how these issues affect the young women with whom you come into contact and how you can be their best resource! Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available for licensed social workers.

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Meeting My Survivor Siblings

Whenever I meet other young women with breast cancer, I’m sad and happy at the same time. I hate knowing they had to experience this horrible disease, but I’m happy it brought us together as sisters.

From l to r, Meredith and Vicky at YSC's booth at OMG2013.

From l to r, Meredith and Victoria at YSC’s booth at OMG2013.

That feeling was magnified by the hundreds this past weekend at OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults in Las Vegas, where around 450 young cancer survivors and supporters networked and discussed, cried and laughed.

We learned about how cancer treatments leave us all with lasting effects and how the doctors who care for us try to balance that with the quality of life concerns for people who haven’t had a mid-life crisis yet.

More than 70,000 young women and men, ages 15 to 39, are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States. And the founder of Stupid Cancer, Matthew Zachary, who was diagnosed as a young adult 17 years ago, said in his opening remarks that people are “ready to hear us” and that we have to be the change we want to see in the world.

So this weekend we talked about changing the way middle schoolers respond to a girl whose hair is growing back from treatment or a guy whose family who can’t see that he didn’t “cause” his cancer but is thriving with it. Or the girl whose right hand trembles because of a brain tumor and how she just wants to eat and drink at a cocktail party without calling attention to herself. Or what makes another comfortable enough that she shows off her scars. Or starts a family.

This was my first summit, and I realized that there’s some sort of magic that happens when we’re all together. There are those unspoken nods, two strangers talking like besties in minutes, and how people around us, like the cabbie who drove my roommate and me to the airport, learn that young people can and do get cancer. And despite our illness, we have the same hopes, wishes and dreams just like everyone else — we just took a detour on the big C train, and we’re forever changed by it.

That’s actually something I learned this weekend. Two years after my breast cancer diagnosis, I’m still realizing how transformative my cancer experience was. In many ways I am not the same person. I have different hair, a different body and a different way of looking at the world as a whole. I no longer get upset when I chip my nail polish — now I keep my cool during scans by pretending I’m getting a fabulous spa treatment. And I’m thankful that I’m here to fight with my sister.

And through the Young Survival Coalition, which supports young women with breast cancer, I’ve learned this weekend that I have many sisters. They’re older and younger, are married and dating. And we all just want to connect. Face to face. As one woman mentioned during a YSC reception this weekend, sometimes connecting with people who “get it” helps ground you.

Cancer is just that: stupid. But it’s also so much more. The trick is finding the beauty between the biopsies and checkups. And in some ways, it becomes not so stupid at all.

The monster has given me the big family I always wanted. My roommate put it perfectly: “Now we have sisters and brothers.”

 

Editor’s Note: Victoria is also the author of the blog Breast Cancer at 30.

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We Heart a Great Fit @ Nordstrom

YSC is excited to partner with Nordstrom on the “We heart a great fit” event April 26–27.  Nordstrom stores across the country will be hosting a bra fitting event this Friday and Saturday, where professional fitters will be on hand to help every woman find the right bra for her, and $2 from each bra purchased during the event will be donated to YSC!

Visit a Nordstrom near you for the "We hear a great fit" event taking place April 26-27.

Visit a Nordstrom near you for the “We heart a great fit” event taking place April 26-27.

This event is all about fit and choice, two ideas that Nordstrom has been offering breast cancer survivors through its In-Store Prosthesis Program for the last 20 years.  This program is not limited to surgical bras and garments only, it’s available for almost any bra in the Nordstrom collection.

Nordstrom’s Certified Prosthesis Fitters will help you choose a bra, and their free, expert tailoring ensures that you will leave the store with exactly what you need. This service is available every day at all Nordstrom stores.

Nordstrom is a participating provider for select insurance programs and offers assistance with Medicare claim filing. Full program details are available on the Nordstrom “Before Your Appointment” page. Learn more about this program and hear from real clients in this short video from Nordstrom:

Whether you are a young breast cancer survivor looking for a post-surgical bra that you can feel confident and beautiful in or simply a woman in search of a great fit, visit a Nordstrom near you this weekend and support YSC too. Added bonus: receive a free Betsey Johnson panty with your $50 lingerie purchase, while supplies last.

Note: I am a long-time fan of Nordstrom, having spent countless hours at the Nordstrom Café with my three co-authors of the book Nordie’s at Noon, the personal stories of four women “too young” for breast cancer. There is nothing better than friends who understand, good food and retail therapy!

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Categories: Taking my Body Back

Innovation Is the Star @ TEDMED

It’s Wednesday evening, Stacy Lewis, YSC’s chief program officer and deputy chief executive, and I just completed the fifth session of TEDMED 2013, and we are halfway through the conference. There are over 1,800 people in attendance from what seems like every genre of medicine and technology, and we fit perfectly somewhere in the middle.

5 steps towards participatory medicine from Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH & the ninth Chancellor of the University of California at TEDMED today.

5 steps towards participatory medicine from Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH & the ninth Chancellor of the University of California at TEDMED today.

Stacy and I received frontline scholarships to attend and have met fascinating people, which has driven discussions outside our normal thinking — exactly the point of being here.

The sessions have tried tackling big data, translating the untranslatable, shifting the patterns of power and mixing the common models we are using in the medical world. So far, the conference is grounded in networking and meeting people outside of your normal space. The culture is driven by strangers shaking hands with everyone they can to enhance their business and increase innovation.

My two favorite speakers from today were Zubin Damania (also known as “Z-DOG MD”) the director of healthcare development for Downtown Project Las Vegas, and Peter Attia who is the founder and President of Nutrition Science Initiative. Both men were incredible speakers — the type where you hang on their every word and feel saddened when their 20 TED minutes are over.

If you’d like to follow the conversation and learn more about this one-of-a-kind event, here are some some sites that can keep you updated through the end of the conference tomorrow:

TEDMED 2013 website

TEDMED Facebook page

#TEDMED Twitter Feed

Real-time feed: http://www.tedmedlive.tv/
(Org name = TEDMED Twitter
Affilaite ID = L12277)

I am looking forward to the next two days and interacting with all of the people I still have to meet. More to come …

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On the Ground in Houston, TX

The saying, “everything is bigger in Texas” is right on.  The weekend of March 21–24 was huge for YSC and survivors, volunteers and the medical community in Houston.   As YSC’s South Regional Field Manager, I had the pleasure of visiting our constituents and representing YSC at events raising awareness of breast cancer in young women.

Back row, from l to r:  Nancy Piña, Robert Piña, Robin Myers, Valerie Loper, Sandy Castillo, Marvin Sharp. Front wow, from l to r: Cindy Kicinski, Michelle Piña Amos

At the Houston Aeros Breast Cancer Awareness Game, March 23, 2013. Back row, from l to r: Nancy Piña, Robert Piña, Robin Myers, Valerie Loper, Sandy Castillo, Marvin Sharp. Front wow, from l to r: Cindy Kicinski, Michelle Piña Amos

Our Texas State Leaders,  Michelle Piña Amos and Sandy Castillo (also a Face 2 Face Leader), were my fantastic hosts for the weekend.  Since it was Texas, their hospitality was HUGE, and their planning and preparation for my time in Houston was outstanding.  Our weekend was packed with meetings, tours and events.

After arriving Thursday evening, I met Sandy to discuss our plans for the weekend and catch up since we last saw each other at C4YW.  We strategized and even convinced the restaurant manager where we ate to host a breast cancer awareness fundraiser this summer.

A busy Friday was highlighted with meeting Roberta Levy Schwartz, one of the co-founders of YSC.  Sandy and I met Roberta for lunch at Methodist Hospital, where she is an executive vice president.  We toured the Cancer Center and saw the infusion rooms, the meditation area and met hospital staff.  It was a delight meeting Roberta and sharing my experiences as the South Regional Field Manager.
Learn More About YSC
Face 2 Face Networking
State Leader Program
Newly Diagnosed Resource Kit

 

After our visit to Methodist, Sandy and I met with Alicia Kouri and Josh Fisher of the Houston Aeros hockey club to finalize the details of the next day’s huge awareness event to benefit YSC.  The Aeros are truly committed to community partnerships and supporting YSC’s mission.

Our last stop was at the Breast Health Collaborative of Texas, where we met Program Manager Kerry Ingram.  Kerry was a wealth of knowledge and provided us with local resources for the ResourceLink database. It was great to see our Newly Diagnosed Resource Kit on display in their office and share other YSC resources.

Prior to my visit, Michelle and I had communicated several times but had never met in person, so I was really looking forward to meeting her.  Over dinner Friday night, we talked for hours!  Michelle shared Houston’s history as well as the history of YSC there, and we worked on plans for the next day’s events.

Saturday was the day that I had been looking forward to for months.  Early morning found us setting up our exhibitor table at the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Patient Education Conference at M.D. Anderson.  Michelle and I represented YSC, sharing information with survivors, caregivers, the medical community, volunteers and staff from other local organizations.

The conference was packed with sessions on nutrition, sexuality and intimacy, oncofertility, reconstruction and more.  The women stopping by our booth were excited to learn more about YSC and how we could support them.  We met a lovely young woman who was interested in attending the hockey game that evening.  I shared my tickets with her and was excited to see her and a friend later at the game.

After the conference, I went back to the hotel to get ready for the Houston Aeros Breast Cancer Awareness Game benefitting YSC.  Walking in, I was greeted by a sea of pink.  There were exhibitor booths, t-shirts designed by the players’ wives for sale, autographed pucks for sale and a massive silent auction.  YSC volunteers worked hard spreading the word about YSC, selling pucks and passing out thousands of pink gloves to the over 9,000 in attendance.

Local Girl Scouts celebrated their 101st anniversary at the game with a Hockey 101 class that included a patch, participating in a pink glove dance after the first period and raising awareness. Even though the Rochester Americans won in a shootout, the game was a huge success!

The Houston Aeros are donating over $7,000 in proceeds to YSC.  Our thanks to the Aeros for this partnership.  It was a pleasure to work with all the staff involved, particularly Alicia.  Her attention to detail and tireless efforts made for a truly amazing evening.  In a quote from Alicia, I am extremely thrilled with the evening. Everything from the vendors to the silent auction went great. YSC is an incredible organization, and I am honored to have worked with them. The Aeros hope to continue our partnership in upcoming years.

After a quick breakfast debrief on Sunday, I headed home to Indianapolis.  Monday back at work was busy with sending out thank you notes and follow up messages about YSC resources and materials that are available to those I met while in Houston.  I look forward to continued partnerships in Houston and extending our reach even farther across the HUGE state of Texas!

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Categories: YSC SYNC - Survivors

Join YSC at OMG 2013

OMG 2013 LogoBeing diagnosed with cancer at a young age sucks. There is really no other way to say it: It sucks.

Some of us feel suddenly alone and “different” from our friends – and who can blame us?

Some of us feel angry that the illusion of immortality was stolen from us too soon – I know I have felt that way.

Some of us feel scared for the future and wonder what “new normal” really means … ok, maybe all of us feel that way.

The point is, if you are under 40 and have been diagnosed with cancer — whatever type of cancer it is — it all sucks!

There is a very special gathering in Vegas this year for all young adults with cancer, and I am honored to be a part of it and attend. It is called the OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults. Brilliant, right?

OMG is about walking into a giant room and seeing hundreds of young people and saying to yourself: “They all have cancer like I do?” or “I can’t believe how many of us there are.” That is what OMG is about. It is about seeing, feeling and knowing that you are not alone.

The conference is April 25–28th, and there are sessions on genetics and research, the ePatient revolution, caring for the caregiver, how cancer impacts all parts of you, healthcare legislation and reform, pain management and so much more. The point is that all young adult cancer survivors will find something to help them — it is made specifically for us — and it is awesome!

For all you young breast cancer survivors, I would love to see you there!! At the conference, YSC will be hosting a reception just for young breast cancer survivors to help connect our under 40 survivors from across the country. Here is a special YSC code to get a discount on registration: OMG2013YSC.

We are going to have lots of fun giveaways and YSC stuff, so I hope you think about attending! Once you sign up, you will receive a special invitation from me with the event details.

YSC is a strong partner of Stupid Cancer and OMG, and I am proud to help spread the word through our network about this amazing conference.

Think about it, you probably know someone or know someone who knows someone, who was diagnosed with cancer (not only breast cancer) before the age of 40. It is important that in the young adult cancer movement we support ALL young adults with cancer and ensure that they have the support and opportunities to meet other young survivors that we have here at YSC.

Please join me in helping to spread the word about this remarkable conference, and please ask anyone you know that decides to attend to introduce themselves to me in Vegas; I would love to meet them!

So one last thing, the infamous OMG road show begins soon. It is worth following and absolutely hilarious; yes, sometimes we have to make cancer funny. Here is the trailer video:

See you in Vegas …. this is going to be EPIC!

 

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Categories: YSC SYNC - Survivors

Innovation + Medicine = Change @ TEDMED

If you were to buy a new car today and drive it from New York City to Los Angeles, stopping along the way at dealers to service the car, when you arrived 3,000 miles later, the dealer would know exactly what was done to your car throughout your journey and what needs to be done next.

TEDMED_WH_RGBBut, when we go to doctors, we fill out paper forms and give our medical history every time. Why do our cars get better care then our bodies? Why hasn’t medicine kept up with the times to ensure the most effective care for all of us?

Every one of us has experienced frustration with a situation like this of some kind … and, to be honest, it is getting old. It is time for change. But the problems are so huge and so complicated that I have often wondered what would be needed to start moving us in the right direction. I think I have found one of the answers: TEDMED.
Learn More
TEDMED
TED Talks
Great Challenges Day
 

 

In a few weeks, from April 16–19, Stacy Lewis, YSC’s Chief Program Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, and I will be attending TEDMED for the first time. TEDMED is where innovators and leaders from many disciplines come together to try and create a better future in health and medicine … I like to think of it as Silicon Valley meets medicine.

If you are not familiar with TED Talks, these are 20-minute talks by leaders from every field to help push thinking and innovation. TEDMED is TED Talks, focused on medicine … with a twist. It is a large conference in D.C., where leaders from medical colleges, teaching hospitals, government agencies and nonprofit institutions from around the world come together to create a better future in health and medicine. Real change by the right people: Cool, right?

Stacy and I both received scholarships to attend and will be participating in a variety of different conversations — to ensure the voice of young women with breast cancer is heard — to push the thinking that we know needs to be pushed.

One part of the conference that I am most excited about is the Great Challenges Day. This part of the conference is about leveraging the science of storytelling and working in small groups to search for a more complete understanding of the key issues that impede a healthier future. I will be participating in the following conversations:

  • The Caregiver Crisis: Caregivers have few tools, few support systems and receive minimal, if any, training for these responsibilities. What innovations can we develop specifically to support the caregiver community?
  • Medical Innovation: Which proven strategies from Silicon Valley, the Moon landings, the Manhattan Project or other successful models could be applied effectively to achieve faster, yet less costly innovation in health and medicine?
  • Sleep Deprivation: What is the full range of causes (social, medical, technological, economic, etc.) that engender and promote this widespread problem? What are the first-order and second-order effects, and beyond, of sleep deprivation? What would it take and what would it mean for America to view sleep as the third pillar of total health alongside diet and exercise?
  • The Role of the Patient: If patients retain their traditional role, does that mean doctors are in charge? Are both in charge somehow? How is “power” shared among all stakeholders and how should it be shared?
  • Managing Chronic Diseases: How can we innovate to help patients prevent, manage and treat their chronic diseases and achieve better outcomes?

 

At the same time, Stacy will be participating in these conversations:

  • Inventing Wellness Programs: What kinds of innovation should we be thinking about and how can we bring them to market as soon as possible?
  • Promoting Active Lifestyles: How do we invent broadly popular and achievable ways for people to become more active, so as to replace those “lost” energy expenditures?
  • Impact of Stress: Given that stress is difficult to quantify and varies from person to person, how do we better understand the role of stress in the larger picture of health?
  • Addressing Healthcare Costs: How do we foster a thoughtful, civil dialog that focuses on science and the public interest, in a way that has a reasonable chance of creating an approach we can all support?
  • Impact of Poverty on Health: America would be better off if everyone were healthy, regardless of income, especially since government programs cover some costs directly. How should we think about the role and impact of poverty within the larger question of health?

 

The whole point of TEDMED’s Great Challenges Day is not to solve these complex problems but rather to provide America and the world with an unbiased view of these challenges, incorporating thoughtful and very different perspectives. TEDMED’s belief is that through an open, ongoing dialog we can foster a much better understanding of each challenge and then make real change that will make a difference.

I am honored to have been invited to participate in this important conversation and will bring what I learn back to YSC and the community of young women diagnosed with breast cancer we serve.

More to come …

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Tour de Pink 2013 … It’s Time!

YSC_Tour_4C(1)For many of us across the country, it feels like spring will never come; as winter drags on, the last thing many of us are thinking about is our bike. Actually — I am not sure if that is true — I have thought about my bike a lot and day dreamed of long rides in the warm sun … but when will spring come?

YSC Tour de Pink® (TdP) changed my life last year. I am not overstating or being dramatic — it really did. Because of cancer I did something that I never would have been able to do before: I rode 200 miles on a bike in three days. I am not saying that it was always pretty or graceful, and those who rode with me know what I mean, but that is not what matters — what matters is I did it.

On the first day of TdP East Coast last year, I rode more miles then I ever had in my life … before the first rest stop. Now I am NOT suggesting that new riders follow my lead; the point is that by the first rest stop I was already in uncharted territory personally! And while I was LITERALLY the last person to arrive at the finish that day — I was so proud of myself that I was delirious with happiness.
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TdP East Coast
TdP West Coast
xxx

The people in my life that know me the best supported in me in my training; but I know (because they admitted it) they thought that I would spend a lot of time in the SAG vans and not ride every mile. While I LOVE the SAG vans — the 2012 TdP East Coast was about me finishing every mile under my own power … I made a commitment to do it, and that was final. And I did. My doubters have all admitted that they were surprised. Translation: Anyone can do this if they put their mind to it.

Queen quoteSo here I am, six months after finishing the biggest athletic accomplishment of my adult life. I have gained weight and not touched my bike in five months. What is up with that?

But April 1st is almost here — the end of early registration for TdP — and I am forced to remember how I felt a year ago … terrified and uncertain. A year ago I could hardly ride on the gym bike on the lowest level for 15 minutes (I had not ridden a bike since I was 10) … a far cry from 200 miles between Philadelphia and D.C.

So my point is: It is time. If you have thought about riding TdP, now is the time to register. If you register by April 1 you get a pair of arm warmers, which is hella cool, and you also put a date in your calendar to works toward.

Even though it is still cold outside for many of us and fall seems like a lifetime away, we all need something to work towards that not only supports a good cause but helps us all to remember to focus on ourselves in our busy life. We all should give ourselves more attention; so join me in riding and doing something for ourselves!

I am riding in both rides again this year. If you want to ride, raise the $2,500 minimum and are looking for a team to join, let me know.

TdP East Coast is September 27–29, and West Coast is October 18–20. Sign up and make the commitment that you know you want to make — it’s time!

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Categories: Taking my Body Back

YSC Research Think Tank Demands Change

YSC-RTT-colorA-tag-resized

YSC’s Research Think Tank

“Patient advocacy” has become a buzz phrase in recent years within the research and medical communities. Grant review boards, such as the Department of Defense (DOD) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), have begun to invite a small handful of advocates to sit at the table and provide insight on future research priorities. The “big name” conferences such as American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) now have patient-scientist programs to incorporate patients and/or advocates into the realm of their discussions.

Nevertheless, these large venues are designed to serve as catchalls for what many still consider a heterogeneous disease with one set of problems and one set of solutions. Young survivorship is treated as an after-thought — a side conversation in a small conference room in annex B of the convention center. Despite good intentions, these meetings have barely begun to skim the surface when it comes to exploring the unique challenges of managing breast health, breast cancer and survivorship in young women as compared to our older counterparts.
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YSC Research Think Tank
Breast Cancer in Women Younger Than 40 Years
ASCO Annual Meeting
  

 

YSC, on the other, hand has tackled this problem head on.

Last month, YSC hosted a truly one-of-a-kind event in the Washington D.C. area, bringing together breast cancer scientists and advocates to discuss the most pressing issues surrounding how to improve upon the quantity and quality of life for young women with breast cancer. Even the nor’easter did not stop us!

Together, we formed a small yet vocal constituency representing universities, cancer centers and health care nonprofits from Boston to Texas to Seattle. Our voices echoed what has been said many times before: that young women are highly underrepresented in scientific literature and that more research is needed to progress further in this area.

The energy in the room was both contagious and magnetic as scientists and advocates explored ways to bridge the gaps in our understanding of this unique and wretched disease. In work groups, we thoroughly reviewed and summarized existing literature as it pertained to young women on six distinct topics: Quality of Life & Survivorship; Treatment; Metastases; Risk Factors; Fertility; and Pregnancy.  For two days, conversations buzzed around what we know, what we do not yet know and what we deemed to be top research priorities for YSC moving forward. Although each person’s motivation differed slightly, we were all there for the same reason: to do everything in our power to create a world without breast cancer.

During the symposium, we paid special tribute to Randi Rosenberg and Kat Werner, two legacies and driving forces behind research on breast cancer in young women. Through their contributions we have begun to develop a strong vision and advocacy plan for addressing the needs of younger women. A 2003  article, Breast Cancer in Women Younger Than 40 Years, co-authored by Randi and published in the International Journal of Fertility, attests to the lack of information about and available to young women — an area that sadly still remains poorly understood nearly a decade later. We intend to carry on Randi and Kat’s work, to push forward what was so near and dear to their hearts and, simply, to make them proud.

So, what’s next, you ask? Plenty!

YSC is in the process of compiling, reviewing, and discussing the information gleaned from this symposium.  This information will be used to draft a prioritized research agenda for young women with breast cancer and to author a State of the Evidence Report which will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals in order to scream from the rooftops: “here we are!” and “pay attention!” In doing so, it is our hope that one day the research community will give us our due attention and truly, fully address the needs of young women with breast cancer.

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C4YW 2013: Sisterhood is Forever

Sisterhood-YSC-resized(Update 4.2.13: The “Sisterhood” t-shirt referenced in the second paragraph is now available for purchase in YSC’s online store)

There is really no way to describe it to those who have not attended. C4YW is a respite for those who have been diagnosed young with breast cancer … for three short days. It’s a place where you feel normal again. It’s a place where the things being discussed are somehow relevant to you. It’s a place where some of the most amazing women I have ever met come together and thrive together.

This year YSC sold a t-shirt at C4YW that said “Initiation sucks. Sisterhood is forever.” We just created this t-shirt and were curious if the women attending C4YW would like it. We had only three of these t-shirts left when the conference wrapped. While a t-shirt is just a shirt, it represents something powerful.

Referring to breast cancer as a “sisterhood” might seem odd to some, but when I think about the strong connections women make with other survivors through both YSC and this conference, sisterhood is the only word powerful enough to explain to other people what these women mean to each other … and to me personally, as a young survivor myself. None of us wanted to be here — but we are — and now we are bound, much like sisters.
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C4YW
Sexy After Cancer
Passionate Nutrition
Breast Cancer Fund

This was my second time attending C4YW. I was so impressed with the breakout session topics and speakers. The sex and intimacy workshop by Barbara Musser was awesome, and the Healthy Eating After Breast Cancer by Jennifer Adler was so informative. There was a Lesbian Women: Dating and Relationships session, as well as workshops geared toward the men who were there to support their partners.

In my opinion, our final plenary speakers, Nancy Buermeyer and Connie Engel from Breast Cancer Fund stole the show. As a woman who has worked in the environmental arena for years, the mission of Breast Cancer Fund is close to my heart. Nancy and Connie did an outstanding job of explaining environmental considerations and providing realistic steps we can all take to lower the impact and level of chemicals to which are our bodies are exposed. As they spoke, I looked around the room and noticed many of the 650 attendees were taking notes. It made me feel proud to see so many of my sisters engaged and know we can deliver such important and meaningful information to the young women we exist to serve.

In the end, we know that money makes the world go around. So, it’s important to give a shout out to our partners who made this amazing meeting possible: Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Eisai, Celgene, Amgen, Avon Foundation for Women, Breast Cancer Wellness, Genentech, Oakley and so many others.  Thank you!

Love also makes the world go around — I felt surrounded by it at C4YW and honored to be a part of this unique sisterhood.

Hope to see you in Florida next year (Orlando, February 21–23, 2014)!!!

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Categories: YSC SYNC - Survivors