Karen began her volunteer relationship with Young Survival Coalition (YSC) two years after her cancer diagnosis at age 34. She was instrumental in establishing the New York City support group and was an active affiliate volunteer. After moving to Seattle, she became a State Leader for Washington as well as a Face 2 Face Coordinator. Karen began on the Board of Directors in 2014 and is currently President; she has served on the Marketing, Development and Program committees. Karen is also a 4-time Tour de Pink rider. We are honored to present Karen Lawson as one of the YSC Game Changers for her work on YSC’s Board of Directors.
What inspires you in your work to support, empower or educate young women affected by breast cancer?
I’m inspired to support, empower and educate young women affected by breast cancer every time I meet another young woman in the same shocked, terrified, confused, overwhelmed and emotional state I found myself in 11 years ago when I was first diagnosed at age 34. It helped me enormously to know that I was not alone in this fight, and I hope to be able to share some of myself with others.
What about your work for young women affected by breast cancer makes you most proud?
In working with young women affected by breast cancer, I feel most proud of watching brave, powerful warriors advocate for themselves at a time in their lives when they are often most vulnerable.
What are your hopes for the future, with regard to YSC and young breast cancer survivors?
I believe so strongly in the power of community and am deeply committed to the idea that no young person should ever face cancer alone. In the future, I hope YSC is able to reach more of us all over the world and continue to foster the sharing of information, support and resources. My hope for the future is also to deepen human connections wherever possible, which is often through meaningful one-on-one interactions.
What is your message for YSC on its 20th anniversary?
My message on the 20th anniversary of YSC is to keep doing the stellar work you have been doing. Build on the last 20 years, and keep striving to do better and be better. YSC has always been an intensely mission-driven organization. They manage to do so much with quite little, with the help of a committed group of grassroots volunteers and a passionate and dedicated staff. Many other organizations exist that are incredibly well funded with giant support staffs, and YSC confidently and successfully holds its own among these. YSC started as a small informal voice of women advocating on behalf of themselves and other young women affected by breast cancer, and this organization is now such a powerful force in our community. I feel confident that YSC is only going to continue this outstanding work. I feel proud to stand alongside them.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Aside from the outstanding staff that ensures YSC is able to deliver its excellent programs, YSC runs on two other vital ingredients: donations and volunteers.
Remember that none of this happens without YOUR support. Every contribution, no matter how small, makes an enormous impact. The $20 you donate to a TdP rider helps them achieve their fundraising goals, which in turn helps YSC deliver powerful programs to you and your breast cancer sisters. The plate of cookies you bring to a Face2Face group helps keep you in community with fellow survivors. Every time you work a table at a conference, talk to your healthcare provider about YSC materials or share a comforting message on the Facebook page, you are helping. To me, volunteering is a particularly powerful force for good and YSC can use your help in a multitude of ways.
About YSC and Game Changers
Young Survival Coalition was founded in 1998 by young women diagnosed with breast cancer under age 35.
YSC is made up of people: survivors, co-survivors, volunteers, donors, healthcare providers. Our strength comes from our community. So in our 20th year, we will honor our roots — the people who have helped build YSC into what it is today — and also look forward, recognizing those in our community who are changing the future of breast cancer in young women.
We are highlighting these individuals as Game Changers throughout 2018 and sharing their stories with the world to thank them for their contributions to our community.