A breast cancer diagnosis is frightening. Even though treatments have come a long way and breast cancer caught early has a very high survival rate, when you receive the diagnosis, hearing the words are traumatizing to anyone. That is why Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) offers a wide range of survivorship programs designed to help newly diagnosed patients as well as programs for long-time survivors.
“When you are first diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the things that can help you remain positive is to talk to someone who has been in your shoes,” Mackenzie Blithe, Communications and Marketing Assistant, said. “Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey is a free class for any newly diagnosed breast cancer patient and their loved ones. We also offer Peer Mentor Support for Breast Cancer. This program connects DBCC Certified Peer Mentors someone who was a similar age and had a similar diagnosis, treatment, surgery and lifestyle with someone who is newly diagnosed. The peer can then provide free, one-on-one support throughout the new patient’s cancer journey.”
Because keeping active can help improve the chances of survival after a breast cancer diagnosis, DBCC also offers a wide range of activities designed to keep people active. Nurture with Nature brings survivors together to experience nature by hiking, biking, kayaking, astronomy, horseback riding and more. It may just be a walk along the beach or a stroll through a local forest, but Blithe explained that enjoying the great outdoors not only allows survivors to connect, but it also helps relieve stress and has been shown to improve recovery. The group holds a monthly event as well as a weekly nature photo challenge.
“We also have Yes2Health, which is a free, 12-week program featuring weekly virtual or in-person meet-ups,” Blithe said. “The meetings are open to the public and include fitness, health and wellness education designed to help people live an active and healthy lifestyle. The best thing is that the target audience for this group is not just breast cancer survivors. It is also open to those who are at risk for breast cancer or other cancers, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, pre-diabetics and diabetics as well as those with a body mass index of 30 or more.”
The Young Survivor’s In Action program focuses on younger breast cancer survivors, Blithe stated. These are people in their 20s, 30s or 40s who have a desire to focus on their during and after breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. The program takes a holistic approach to wellness, offering monthly events that allow survivors to connect, embrace and grow.
“Once the pandemic started, it became increasingly difficult to get together with my friends to exercise,” one young breast cancer survivor said. “Thankfully, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition recognized the need for Breast Cancer Thrivers to meet online to participate in physical activity and the Young Survivors in Action group started hosting monthly FUNctional Fitness and Sleepy Time Yoga sessions. Now I look forward to meeting with my fellow Breast Cancer Thrivers once a month for these two wonderful fitness programs which are good for my mind, body and soul.”
DBCC also focuses on providing knowledge, understanding and information to encourage persistence through a breast cancer patient’s journey, Blithe explained. A Breast Cancer Conversation offers support to those who have completed treatment in their journey while ìViva La Vida! Is a program designed for Latina and Spanish speaking people who have been diagnosed. Forever Fighters is designed for those who have metastatic and Stage 4 diagnoses, offering free monthly conversations while My Sister’s Keeper is a free program providing support to people of all colors and at any stage of their life who are dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis.
Education, fitness and support are not the only things that DBCC offers to breast cancer patients. They also offer financial assistance to those in need. Blithe explained that the Breast Cancer Assistance Fund is an emergency fund whose sole purpose is to provide immediate emergency assistance to residents of Delaware undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Residents of the state who can demonstrate a financial need and are receiving treatment may be eligible to receive funds.
“What joy and smile the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition has placed on my face and in my heart,” one recipient of funds said. “I believe with my heart once you speak with one of the representatives what an uplift it will be to your heart, mind and soul.”
Other recipients of DBCC’s generosity echo that sentiment.
“With breast cancer and lung cancer, I got really stressed out regarding my financial obligations,” another recipient said. “Your breast cancer organization is a God send. My doctors don’t want me to stress, and I can say that you have relieved some.”
Other programs offered by DBCC include Survivor Socials, which include social events surrounding crafts, volunteering or education. The Bosom Buddy program provides accessories and products like wigs, prosthetics lymphedema garments and more to those newly diagnosed, undergoing treatment or recovering from surgery and treatment. In the Loop is an educational program that offers sessions with medical professionals on topics such as “What’s New in Breast Cancer Related Fatigue.” These workshops help breast cancer patients stay informed on the latest medical treatments, advances and advice.
“We have recently launched a new program,” Blithe said. “A Caregiver Conversation provides a discussion forum regarding the challenges of supporting a loved one through a cancer diagnosis while navigating taking care of oneself and other family members.”
For more information about programs offered by DBCC, visit https://debreastcancer.org/programs/survivorprograms/.
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