DBCC Program Spotlight: Young Survivors in Action

When the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition was founded by a group of volunteers in 1991, one of the first needs they identified was a program for young breast cancer survivors. At the time, there weren’t a lot of resources or groups specifically for young women impacted by breast cancer. And they also felt that they had different needs and questions like “Will I be able to have children after treatment?” or “How do I tell my young children about my cancer?” or “How do I tell someone I’m dating about my breast cancer?”  

The Young Survivors in Action (YSIA)program was started by a group of volunteers who were breast cancer survivors. The group held some events for young survivors and went out and spoke to groups. The main focus was on mentoring young women through their breast cancer journey. “The program morphed into the Peer Mentor Support Program and set a framework for a one-on-one mentoring program for all newly diagnosed breast cancer patients,” said Cathy Holloway, Program Director for Education & Survivorship at DBCC. Today, the Peer Mentor Support Program has trained over 250 peer mentors throughout the state and helps over 200 newly diagnosed women each year.
In the past year, the YSIA program has been offering new programs. “First we held a focus group with young survivors to identify issues they want to hear about,” said Cathy. They agreed that the YSIA program would offer a networking piece in addition to an educational health-related piece. The group is open to all young breast cancer survivors in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. According to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, more than 11,000 women under 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Though that number accounts for less than 5% of breast cancer diagnoses each year, there are 250,000 women 40 and under in the United States living with breast cancer.
The YSIA program currently operates in two locations: New Castle County (including surrounding counties in Pennsylvania) and Kent/Sussex Counties. The groups organize their own programs based on the interests of the group. Programs to date have included a holiday party, a hike and picnic, a talk with a psychologist who provided tips to talk to children about cancer, and a talk on the benefits of juicing.
 “The needs of young survivors can be very different and include concerns about young children, getting pregnant, breastfeeding, dating, body image and sexuality, healthy eating, exercise and more,” said Cathy.  YSIA plans to discuss topics like these in future programs.
YSIA is also active in DBCC events like the Breast Cancer Update, the Monster Miles for a Cause Walk, the Nurture with Nature program, and the DE-feet Breast Cancer 5K Run/Walk. In January, they held a Guest Bartender Night at BBC Tavern & Grille to raise funds for the YSIA program. They are also planning in being involved with the DBCC Night at the Blue Rocks on July 11.
If you are interested in joining the Young Survivors in Action group please contact Cathy Holloway at 302-778-1102 ext. 13.

Volunteer Spotlight: Sue Ryan & Peggy Dever

Sue (left) and Peggy
When Sue Ryan was diagnosed with breast cancer 28 years ago, it was her best friend Peggy Dever who became her caregiver.  At the time they both lived in Pennsylvania and Sue spent time vacationing in Rehoboth Beach with her friends. Then Sue and her husband decided to make the move to Rehoboth Beach 12 years ago. Sue was then introduced to DBCC and started volunteering at health fairs and giving talks about breast cancer.
Ten years later, Peggy and her husband decided to make the move to Rehoboth Beach as well. Peggy joined Sue as a DBCC volunteer and they became two of DBCC’s “go-to volunteers.” Together they volunteer at DBCC outreach and fundraising events throughout the year. “Together, it’s a fun thing for the two of us to do,” said Peggy. “My mother had breast cancer and so did my best friend (Sue) so it’s very dear to my heart.”
For the past few years, the two have worked as co-chairs of the silent auction committee for Southern Lights of Life. Together the dynamic duo asks local businesses for donations for the silent auction to raise funds for DBCC. 
Sue also started DBCC’s Bosom Buddy program about 2 years ago. The program provides donated bras, prostheses, bathing suits and wigs for breast cancer survivors. In the past year the program has given away 42 bathing suits, 20 prostheses, 40 bras and a number of wigs. Peggy and Sue host Bosom Buddy days at the Lewes and Dover offices and attend the annual Breast Cancer Update to introduce survivors to the program. “It’s so rewarding to see the look on a woman’s face when she feels better about her looks,” said Sue. “We had one woman who had a double mastectomy and had been stuffing her bra. We helped her find a prosthesis and she just cried.”
Left to right: Peggy, Sue, Connie Holdridge and Kathy Wiz.
Sue explains that her favorite part of volunteering for DBCC is interacting with survivors. “I’m such a people person and helping survivors makes me feel good,” she said. Sue has been a DBCC peer mentor for 4 years. In that time she has mentored 20 newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. “I just enjoy the organization immensely,” Sue adds. “I wish I had DBCC when I was diagnosed. What they do is fantastic and the staff is wonderful to work with.” Sue recently joined the DBCC staff as a part-time outreach coordinator in Sussex County. She helps with outreach events and manages the Bosom Buddy program.
Peggy agrees that the programs that DBCC offers are important to survivors. “I enjoy the outreach programs and I think getting the information out there about breast cancer is very important,” she said. “DBCC is wonderful and they help so many people. I love to keep active and stay involved with the organization.” 
In November 2012 Peggy and Sue were recognized by Delmarva Broadcasting Company as “Delmarvalous Women” which recognizes outstanding women. Vicky Cooke, DBCC Executive Director, and Connie Holdridge, DBCC Program Manager of Education & Survivorship in Sussex County, nominated them for their outstanding service to DBCC. “They are just so involved with all that DBCC does from fundraisers to health fairs to the Bosom Buddy program,” Connie said. “They are two of DBCC’s core volunteers and they do anything and everything that we ask. They truly are a great team.”