We were honored to be asked to provide a program at Abe Stark School and to the close-knit community of Starrett City/Spring Creek Towers. 15 parents and staff members participated on October 31st and they accepted us warmly. There was breakfast and home baked cupcakes. Most of the participants had grown up together, attended school together, a few became teachers and now their children go to this school together.
The group was comprised of many survivors who shared their stories and diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. They freely gave and received support to one another. One woman described her reconstruction and answered questions from the others who were curious about the procedure.
Many important topics were covered including: the importance of listening, financial concerns, coping with feelings of helplessness loss and grief, caretaker burnout, unhelpful family members, and making time for important health care and screenings. The importance of knowing your own family history was also emphasized and demonstrated by 3 generations of one family who attended the program. They spoke positively of sharing the same health care providers. This has been essential for them in surviving various health care issues, including breast cancer.
When we asked how many women in the group had had a yearly mammogram all but one raised her hand. She expressed fear about the procedure. As the group provided empathy and support, she was able to acknowledge and release her fear. A member of the group offered to help her make the appointment and would accompany her and she accepted.
This community has so much strength, caring and wisdom to share. It was great to see that shared strength in action, as participants gave voices to their concerns and needs, and were able to help each other value themselves and take active steps to protect their health and the health of those they love.