This is Jean's final post in her exclusive three-part series for Spirited Woman. Jean is the creator of the very successful blog No Boobs About It, a two-time breast cancer survivor, and the former Director of American Cancer Society's NYC Patient Navigator Program.
In her second post - Jean wrote about giving yourself permission from treatment to survivorship. In this post she writes about how new beginnings are your opportunity to thrive.
After a few years of earning a living as a writer, I gave myself permission to start a company providing writing services for nonprofit organizations and small corporations.
One of these jobs was to put me in touch with hundreds of women who had survived breast cancer. These women came from diverse cultures, ranged in age from late twenties to midsixties and most had English as a second language. What most of them had in common was they were in the process of, or had made a new beginning after active treatment. Most spoke of becoming more assertive in their relationships, others took jobs outside their homes, some were getting their GED diploma others were taking college courses. A few had left abusive or loveless relationships.
Many of these women were “paying it forward” as volunteers in hospital clinics where newly diagnosed women received treatment. As survivors, they gave the gift of hope that only a survivor can give. They gave comfort to patients, speaking to them in their native language.
After treatment for my second breast cancer, it was time for new permissions and beginnings. The first beginning, the realization of a 20 year dream…a web site helping young children learn how to make good choices. Can Do Street, now in its second year, is for families with children 3-7 years.
Also in its second year, No Boobs About It, Inc., a nonprofit organization, helps women navigate breast cancer and survivorship by providing the most up-to-date information on research, resources and support services, via its web site, www.noboobsaboutit.org.
I continue to meet women who used their breast cancer experience to reinvent themselves. Two of the many women I’ve met, in the past two years, that are doing amazing work are Jeanine Patten-Coble, founder and director of Little Pink Houses of Hope and Kimberly Luker, founder and director of Botanicals for Hope.
Walking along the Carolina shore, trying to come to grips with her own breast cancer diagnosis, Jeanine got the idea for beach get-a-ways for women in treatment and their families and Little Pink Houses of Hope was born. Jeanine’s organization provides week- long beach retreats in the Carolinas for breast cancer patients and their families.
While going through chemo for breast cancer, Kimberly developed a line of natural cosmetics suitable for women going through cancer treatment whose skin was dry and sensitive as a result of chemo and radiation treatments.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over two million women breast cancer survivors in the U.S. today. That’s a lot of survivors. That’s a lot of beginnings.
Jean Campbell is an educator, a two-time breast cancer survivor, a published book author, magazine writer and former staff writer for a trade paper. During the past 35 years, she founded five corporations and designed and developed over 100 educational, health care and social services programs for youth and adults, raising over 100 million dollars in grants to support these initiatives.