Young Survival Coalition’s SurvivorLink peer mentoring program has helped thousands of young breast cancer survivors by connecting them with trained volunteers who’ve been through similar situations. SurvivorLink Volunteer mentors are women from all backgrounds who were diagnosed at different stages: what they have in common is a desire to give back to others.
Rayan became a SurvivorLink volunteer in 2011 because she didn’t feel like there were peer support programs that effectively addressed her needs when she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2003 at the age of 32. A year after she finished treatment, Rayan found YSC on the Internet, she was finally able to connect with other young survivors. She feels that YSC does such vital work and it’s important for her to share her story to give hope to other women. “I am glad just to be able to give them the resources that I had to struggle for,” says Rayan. She feels that the women she’s mentored are relieved to talk to her because she can give them some ideas about what to expect while they’re going through the process and post-treatment.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer survivor Katherine was diagnosed in 2005 when she was 31 years old. After calling a breast cancer hotline she was connected with a survivor in her 60s who was helpful, but Katherine wanted to speak to a young woman who could relate to her concerns. Fortunately the woman told her about YSC, so she attended a YSC meeting in Seattle, WA and was blown away by the support she received. She had great experiences attending YSC activities and events, but she stepped away for a couple of years to focus on other aspects of her life. When the SurvivorLink training program became available online, she chose to volunteer because of the ease and flexibility. “I feel like I have this massive amount of knowledge to be able to share. That is satisfying,” says Katherine.
Two-time breast cancer survivor Erika was diagnosed in 2003 and again 2008 when she was 33 years old. Although she had great support from her family and friends, she felt very nervous and wanted to speak to another survivor. “Sometimes you just want to hear about what worked for somebody else,” says Erica. She needed the network of women from YSC who helped her along her journey. This inspired her to become a peer support volunteer in 2005 and she’s been involved ever since. “I hope that when I do talk to someone I can give them some type of comfort to let them know it’s not the end of the world,” she says.