Personal Stories, Headlines & Helpful Information
By: Mayra Sandoval
Post by Mayra Sandoval, Helpline Specialist, Susan G. Komen
Working on the Susan G. Komen® breast care helpline is truly rewarding. But honestly, there are times when I feel defeated. Daily, I tell myself, “You can’t lead the people, if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.” (Dr. Cornel West)
There are people across the country in need of financial assistance, access to treatment, information, support – maybe even just a hug.
As a helpline specialist, it can be challenging not being able to fully help our callers due to a lack of resources; fortunately, this was not the case for Patricia. I hold clients like her dear to my heart.
Patricia called the helpline in a panic. She felt overwhelmed, and was even contemplating taking her own life. She had recently been diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She lacked a support system, and was also experiencing financial difficulties. Even for those with financial resources, it can be stressful to manage breast cancer treatment – decisions that have to be made, appointments to be scheduled and more – while also having to worry about the financial aspects involved in everyday care and other expenses like rent, groceries and childcare.
Instantly, I heard how depressed and hopeless she felt. I was able to offer her some encouragement, and let her know that she had made the first step by calling in. We discussed some of the questions she had about her cancer, as well as some of the resources that I thought would help her, including information about the Linking ARMS program, which is funded by a Komen grant. This program provided her with funds for transportation to get to and from her treatment.
Equally as important, I was also able to connect her with support services. Although Patricia felt depressed and hopeless, she took the resources I gave her. I was hopeful Patricia would build her support network and speak to other metastatic breast cancer patients. As we finished talking, I thought how difficult a breast cancer diagnosis, especially metastatic, can be. On the helpline, we know that making time for our callers to openly express their feelings is an important part of their journey, and a big step in coping.
A few months later, I was able to do a follow up call with Patricia. It is somewhat rare for us to have the opportunity to follow up with a caller, but I was pleased to hear from her!
Patricia relayed to me that she had taken advantage of the resources and supportive services. She received financial assistance and joined support groups in her area.
Then she told me our conversation “saved her life.”
It’s moments like these that inspire me to make a positive impact in the life of every caller. It is a true honor to be part of Komen, and all of the great work that happens daily.
If you have questions about breast cancer – any questions! – you can always give us a call at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636).
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