In February of 1996, my husband at the time underwent triple by-pass surgery @ Jefferson Hospital. While he was recuperating, I went for my baseline and was informed that same evening that there may be a problem. On March 27, 1996, I underwent a mastectomy & the beginning stages of reconstruction also at Jefferson Hospital. Our daughter, Alison, was 5 at the time.
At some point during my recovery, someone told me about LBBC and I started going to their "Young Survivors" meetings, which at that time were hel at the Narberth Fire Station. The crowd was small and the surroundings were a little bleak. In the meantime, I started to volunteer for LBBC in their office in Narberth. My first event was at the King of Prussia Mall, which was an art exhibit having to do with women affected by breast cancer. That led me to help with many more functions. One of my favorites was calling area florists & asking them if they would donate a centerpiece for our upcoming annual gala which was held at the Crystal Tea Room that year. What a pleasant surprise when each & every one I called said absolutely yes they would and beautiful the room looked with an array of gorgeous flowers that were donated to such a great cause.
Aside from volunteering for LBBC and after discussing how we could make the Young Survivor's meetings more attractive, I asked what they thought of the my hosting the meeting at my house, which at the time was in Lafayette Hill. We decided to make it a Pot Luck supper with a guest speaker for each meeting, which was held every 6 weeks or so. I can tell you that my home was filled with women from their early twenties to I think the cut-off age at that time for a "Young" survivor was maybe 40ish. It gave me such joy to open up my home to these women who were all going through the same ordeal. Many friendships were formed, tears cried, information gained and just a forum where they could experience the joy & pain of others.
As you may know, at the annual Gala each year, four women are chosen to be honorees and I did get a phone call I think in 2001 with the news that I was chosen for the upcoming gala to be one of those women. What an honor and a privilege. During this time, my marriage was ending and it was a difficult time, but just like breast cancer, I got through it. The Gala night came and my family & friends were all there along with my daughter, who was 10 at the time. I didn't have thank you speech prepared, but Alison told me, "Mom, just wing it" and that's what I did. What an honor!
So, 15 years later, I am cancer free and my life has changed in some ways, but will never forget my time spent with the wonderful people at LBBC and the wonderful experiences I enjoyed being a part of such an exceptional organizaiton.
I"m 57 and a 22 year survivor. LBBC is the only bc organization with which I volunteer because they give direct, useful, personal care to ANY WOMAN who needs information. And the web site is an excellent source of very current information. In addition, the LBBC staff is appreciative of all of their volunteers-it really feels like a team effort. I've worked the phone hotline for a few years, speaking with women in various stages of treatment and sometimes with caregivers. If I am not able to answer a specific question or request, LBBC gets an answer within one day, every time. It really is a first class organization.
I've been a participant in LBBC's conferences, teleconferences, and a volunteer on their helpline. They provide the best and newest information on treatment, diagnosis, psychsocial aspects of having breast cancer, and were the first to address the needs of those of us with late stage, or metastatic breast cancer. The staff is bright, qualified, committed, and infused with the mission of doing all that they can to help translate medical information to the lay public in a way that is understandable, useful, and that helps women become their own advocates in their breast cancer experiences.
I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 1982 and then again in 2003. I turned to Living Beyond Breast Cancer and I have never looked else where. I get so much support; both intellectually and emotionally, from the staff as well as from the amazing women I have met there who share my disease. The organization is so inspiring that I have even chosen to work as a volunteer.