Breast Cancer is a Family Disease: New Co-Survivor Program from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to Educate and Empower Caregivers
Breast Cancer is a Family Disease
New Co-Survivor Program from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to Educate and Empower Caregivers
DALLAS - May 2, 2005 - When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, their life and the lives of their extended family and friends are turned upside down. Schedules are interrupted. Roles are reversed. Household members, particularly children, are frightened. Close relationships are strained. The balance of life is disrupted.
The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is launching a new program to acknowledge, educate and empower this under-recognized audience: extended family members, friends and health care providers of breast cancer survivors, known as co-survivors. Simply put, these are the people who are there for breast cancer survivors through diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
The Komen Co-Survivor program is a two-part initiative that includes an educational program and a recognition program to give survivors an outlet to share their gratitude for their co-survivors. The education program includes Komen Foundation's Web site, www.komen.org, that will feature a special co-survivor Web page launching Spring 2005, full of useful, printable information about breast cancer; a co-survivor message board for tips and idea exchange and a collection of real-life co-survivor stories that illustrate the program's key objectives: Strength, Support, Love. Other topics of information include:
- Knowing how to help. When to talk. When it might be better to listen.
- How to help survivors get the most out of doctor visits, pathology reports and staging information.
- How and when to lighten up, share a laugh, bring a sense of ‘normalcy' to someone dealing with breast cancer.
- How to face your own fears about life-threatening disease and what the patient may be going through.
- How to talk to and help children of breast cancer survivors.
- How co-survivors can re-charge emotionally when the survivor has a set-back or faces major challenges.
- Being there at the end. What hospice nurses and other professionals can teach us all about letting go.
Komen Foundation Helpline
More than one-third of the incoming calls to Komen Foundation's National Toll-Free Breast Care Helpline are from co-survivors: friends and family members in need of information and support.
The Helpline staff members are trained, caring volunteers who understand what patients and co-survivors face. They answer questions, give moral support and connect more than 20,000 co-survivors annually with information they need, in Spanish and English.
The Komen Foundation, a leading breast cancer advocate for more than 20 years, enjoys a unique perspective on the challenges breast cancer survivors face.
"We recognize that breast cancer is a family disease that impacts everyone. It affects spouses, children, parents, co-workers, friends and health care providers and these people have their own unique challenges," said Wendy Mason, manager of the Komen Foundation's National Toll-Free Breast Care Helpline. "We believe in treating the whole patient - mind, body and soul. When you help the co-survivor, you help the breast cancer survivor."
The Komen Foundation also cites recent studies that have found social support, like that provided by co-survivors, may reduce anxiety and feelings of pain, improve self-image, sexual satisfaction and feelings of control in women with breast cancer. In addition, strong social connections have been shown to help survivors with their adjustment and recovery after treatment and may enhance the functioning of the immune system, thereby having a positive impact on cancer recurrence and survival.
The Komen Co-Survivor recognition program was rolled out in Spring 2004 at Komen Race for the Cure® events and educational events around the country. Komen Affiliates, which have a presence in more than 15,000 communities, educate the public about the important role of co-survivors in a variety of ways from special recognition ceremonies at Race for the Cure® events to survivor/co-survivor lunch and learn events. The pink and white co-survivor ribbon created by the Komen Foundation signifies the relationship between a breast cancer survivor and co-survivor, and is available via the marketplace tab of www.komen.org or by calling 1.877 SGK SHOP (1.877.745.7467).