Breast Cancer Warriors Unite!
In March of 2023, I embarked upon a brand new journey: a diagnosis of breast cancer. My annual mammogram indicated something was off. Additional mammograms, plus ultrasounds, biopsies, an MRI, a PET-CAT scan, and a bilateral mastectomy, lymph nodes removal, reconstruction, drains, and port placement surgery would all quickly follow. I am now in chemotherapy in July 2023. This. Has. Been. a. LOT!
I spent a great deal of time researching resources and information online as soon as I found out that I have breast cancer. Trying to balance working as a full-time high school English teacher, answering medical phone calls, arranging appointments, responding to questionnaires online, going to medical appointments, learning about my breast cancer and treatments, and communicating all of this to my family that all reside out of state has been a real challenge.
One of the things that keeps surprising me is how many wonderful resources are available for women (and men) with breast cancer! However, even more surprising (and disappointing), is how difficult, energy-draining, and time-consuming it has been to find it. There are a few things I have missed out on that I could have used or would have been beneficial to know about sooner. But I just didn’t know. There’s no comprehensive source that says “Hey, girl! I got you! Sign up for all of these resources!”
I am still digging around and networking with awesome people all over. I am also still in the early part of my breast cancer journey. I don’t know where you are in yours (or the person you are caring for in hers), but let me share some solidarity with you, my Breast Cancer Warrior Sister! Here’s a list of EVERYTHING that I have been able to find so far. Please know that because I am still undergoing treatment that I will be having fatigue days and days that are ok, so this list will continue to grow and I will work on better organization later. I encourage you to also reach out to me! I may not be able to respond right away (again, chemo fatigue), but I will as soon as I can. If you have free resources to share, I will happily post those as well!
No One Fights Alone!
Shannon Maureen Russell
Breast Cancer Warrior
Comprehensive Connected Organizations Offering Extensive Resources and Support
Unite for Her: https://uniteforher.org
Additional Helpful Organizations with Useful Resources
The Pink Lemonade Project: https://www.pinklemonadeproject.org
Lasagne Love: https://lasagnalove.org This nationwide organization works with wonderful volunteers who will bake and deliver a homemade lasagna to those going through their cancer journey. A volunteer reached out a few weeks after I signed up and asked if I wanted vegetarian or sausage lasagne (I asked for the latter). She arranged a date and time that was the week of my surgery so that my mother and I could focus on other things that needed to be arranged. In case you were wondering, yes, the lasagne was delicious!
Hair Care Resources
Great Clips “Clips of Kindness” program: https://www.greatclips.com/about-us/giving/clips-of-kindness Many breast cancer warriors choose to shave their heads before their hair begins to fall out. Here’s one company that will help you with that for free. All Great Clips salons in the U.S. and Canada provide complimentary clipper cuts to customers facing hair loss due to cancer treatments.
The Pink Wig Project: https://www.pinkwigproject.org/pages/apply-for-a-wig
Home Care Resources
Cleaning for a Reason: https://cleaningforareason.org Chemo fatigue is real, and the need to keep one’s home clean, tidy, and sanitized is so important for good physical and mental health. Cleaning for a Reason is an organization that works with cleaning services nationwide to provide two home cleanings for cancer patients. Sign up on their website with your request, and they will match you with a business that participates in the program.
Care Packages (with additional information and resources)
Fight Club Survivor: https://fightclubsurvivor.org/care-packages
Lisa’s Army: http://lisasarmy.org/nominate/
Breast Cancer Buddies Programs (mentors who have been through it)
Local Jacksonville, Florida Area Resources
Buddy Check 12 Kit from Baptist Health: https://www.baptistjax.com/forms/buddy-check-12-kit