SHARE: Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors

"Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors" shares the wisdom of breast cancer survivors with the newly diagnosed. What's your story?

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One of the greatest challenges for those who have been newly diagnosed is finding sources of support. Patients are eager for information on everything from enduring surgery and chemotherapy to how to deal with hair loss.

Best-selling author and breast cancer survivor Barbara Delinsky has gathered the wisdom of hundreds of breast cancer survivors who are eager to inspire those who are new to the “breast cancer sisterhood.” She shares all of the stories and tidbits she found in her book "Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors."

First published in 2001, the book was updated for a 10th anniversary edition published last year. Delinsky donates all the profits from the book to fund a research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Delinsky describes "Uplift" as a “comprehensive support group in a book form.”

“It is a handbook of practical tips and upbeat anecdotes that I compiled with the help of more than 400 breast cancer survivors, their families and friends. They gave me the book that I wish I’d had way back when I was diagnosed.”

Not everyone knows what to say when a friend or family member reveals a breast cancer diagnoses. Some of the women in "Uplift" shared that when people don’t know what to say, they say nothing at all, which Delinsky says is the worst possible choice.

“A note, an email, a voicemail simply saying 'I’m thinking of you' is the kindest thing in the world.” 

When Delinsky was looking for answers to questions, she found “nurses more informative when it came to answering mundane questions that weren’t mundane to me at all.”

Delinsky says look to your local hospital, faith organizations and even your workplace as potential sources of support.

“One of the comments I got over and over again from contributors to 'Uplift' was that after they were diagnosed, women came out of the woodwork to say that they’d been there, that they understood, that they wanted to help.”

Delinsky says that she believes her life is better for having had breast cancer.

"I cherish my husband and kids more than ever. I view my grandchildren as a gift. And my career is frosting on the cake! So many of my 'Uplifters' [women she quotes in her book] have taken breast cancer as a wake-up call to appreciate their lives all the more, even dared to go back to school or do something entirely different with their lives.”

Those who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer also should be “uplifted” by the large sisterhood of survivors that have lived to share their wisdom, says Delinsky.

“Women are surviving breast cancer in numbers that were unheard of a generation ago. We’re being diagnosed earlier and being treated more effectively. More than 2.5 million women have had breast cancer and are now alive and well. Much of this is the result of mammography. Any woman who fears the 'pain' of mammography should know that five seconds of discomfort can lead to years and years of a longer life.”

TELL US: Do you have an experience with breast cancer that you would like to share? Honor the sisterhood of survivors in our town by uploading a photo to the gallery above or sharing your story in the comment section below.

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Judi October 25, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Congratulations to Barbara on many years of survival! I too am a breast cancer survivor and a research advocate associated with the UCSF Breast Oncology Program's SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence). My recommendations for the newly diagnosed are: 1) get a 2nd opinion from a breast specialist at a Cancer Center - preferably a University Medical/Cancer Center; 2) Always have someone attend medical appointments with you with pen/paper & recorder if possible (doctors do not mind recording, as it helps the patient to "hear" again when they leave the appt. Ask your advocate to help you "navigate" the process of learning your options. 3) Contact a resource center, such as the excellent Breast Cancer Connections, located in Palo Alto. They have a wealth of resources, buddy programs, library, and trained teams who will help you navigate your journey as an "informed" patient. There is NO CHARGE for their services. Some of their long-term advocates are also members of the UCSF research advocacy group, and work with doctors from Stanford & UCSF. 4) Get a copy of the lastest printing of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book (paperback - about $20). It is the "Bible of Breast Cancer" and can be easily read like an encyclopedia with illustrations to help visualize the subject. Dr. Susan Love is the most famous breast surgeon-oncologist in the world, and her book is incredible. If you are not the patient, but a friend or family member - buy this book for the patient!
Judi October 25, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Continued.... 5) Make sure you understand your diagnosis (pathology) - as there are MANY kinds of breast cancer & most patients never ask what kind of BC they have. ASK your doctor, and/or ask to speak to the pathologist. Some types of breast cancer are: DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ) in the ducts; LCIS (Lobular Carcinoma in Situ) in the lobes, Inflamatory Breast Cancer, Tubular Carcinoma, etc. There are different treatment options for each. There is a test to determine recurrence risk - OncoType DX, which will help determine patient options also. Be an informed patient and an informed advocate! Medicine has come a long way, and there is lots of credible information and good websites available (not all). BreastCancer.org is good and others can be given by a good resource center, such as Breast Cancer Connections in Palo Alto. Be healthy & happy....
Judi October 25, 2012 at 04:34 PM
www.lbbc.org (Living Beyond Breast Cancer) is a breast cancer resource of the American Society of Clinical Oncology - ASCO, which is the most prestigious cancer research organization in the world.


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