Three years ago, Brenda Blue having just had breast reduction surgery, received some surprising news – she had breast cancer in both her breasts. “I was shocked,” Brenda said. “It’s one thing when you hear about it but it’s a whole new story when it’s you.” With a diagnosis of Stage 0 Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) breast cancer, she had a bilateral mastectomy.
|Brenda (left) with her mother and son|
Diagnosis and treatment was emotionally difficult for Brenda although she is grateful for the strong support system provided by family and friends. “I had support but most times, I just didn’t want people around since I was dealing with so many emotions.”
However, when she met other survivors without the same support system, she knew she wanted to do something for them. “I just knew I needed to be more involved,” she said. Brenda participated in several walks for breast cancer and each time would wear the name of someone she was walking in honor of or in memory of on the back of her shirt. When she signed up for one breast cancer walk, she came across the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition’s website. After browsing DBCC’s site, she called to sign up to be a volunteer and then later, a trained peer mentor.
“When you are first diagnosed, you don’t know what to expect…Being a peer mentor is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in a long time.”
A memorable moment soon after Brenda’s journey was the surprising coincidence that her neighbor was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I remember being at the store when my neighbor called me in hysterics,” she said. “When I got to her house she was standing at her kitchen sink crying because her hair was starting to fall out. I didn’t have chemotherapy as part of my treatment so I didn’t know how to react. But I realized then that I could be a support system for her. I made her smile and made her feel good about herself. I was able to give her hope.” Brenda’s neighbor is now also a Peer Mentor and Volunteer for DBCC.
“Being a breast cancer advocate has been rewarding because I love helping people and giving back,” Brenda said. “DBCC has been great because they have such great programs where you can talk with other survivors.” Brenda currently has two mentees who are beginning their breast cancer journey.
For more information about the Peer Mentor Support Program, click here. For more information about volunteering, please click here. DBCC holds Peer Mentor Trainings and Volunteer Trainings in each county multiple times a year.Check the calendar for the next one near you!