Maureen Parrish — YSC Michigan State Leader & Co-founder of original YSC Metro Detroit local support group
Maureen was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of 35 with a rare form of breast cancer — invasive papillary carcinoma. When she heard the diagnosis, Maureen was a newlywed, just starting life with her husband. She desperately wanted to talk to another survivor her age about treatment options, reconstruction and working during treatment.
As Maureen searched the Internet for information about breast cancer in pre-menopausal women, Maureen discovered Young Survival Coalition’s (YSC) website and online community. There she connected with other young women who related to the challenges she was facing. Through these online conversations — Maureen found hope, encouragement and guidance from women who had walked down the same road.
Six months after joining YSC’s Community Boards, Maureen posted a message asking if there was anyone living near her in the Detroit suburbs. Soon after, on a Sunday afternoon, she was face to face with 12 other local young survivors. The meeting was a success and Maureen started to wonder how she could do more to reach other young breast cancer survivors in the area.
In 2008, she contacted YSC and was connected to Michelle Tubbs, Nicole Wasson and Lauren Reizen. These four women worked together to bring a YSC presence to Metro Detroit, through which Maureen was able to give newly diagnosed women a way to obtain information, attend local educational programs and enjoy the benefits of being part of the larger YSC community.
As Maureen moved further out of treatment, she developed a passion for educating healthcare providers about YSC. Working with YSC’s Regional Field Manager, she diligently focuses on outreach to local hospitals, speaking with oncology departments and nurse navigators to ensure they recognize and address the unique issues that arise when a woman is diagnosed under 40.
Recently, Maureen became a YSC State Leader. In this role, she aims to expand YSC’s reach throughout the state of Michigan. Eight years after treatment, she still hears of young women who think they are alone. Maureen believes, “It’s imperative to arm a newly diagnosed woman with questions she can ask her medical team and the peer connections she needs to make this journey a little easier.”
By getting materials like YSC’s Newly Diagnosed Resource Kit (NDRK) into the offices of healthcare providers and the hands of more women who need it, she’s changing the misconception that young women don’t get breast cancer.
Thank you, Maureen, for your unwavering efforts to bring the resources and support of YSC to young women diagnosed with breast cancer in Metro Detroit.