For more than 40 years, the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program has helped women and men cope with their breast cancer experience, which begins when someone is faced with the possibility of a breast cancer diagnosis and continues throughout the entire period that the breast cancer remains a personal concern.
“When people first discover that they have breast cancer or may have breast cancer, they often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, and alone,” commented Amy Wen, Patient and Family Services Manager for the American Cancer Society. “It is a stressful time and Reach to Recovery allows these patients to connect with someone else who has been there and to receive a bit of guidance and support during the entire process.”
Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients can talk with a specially trained Reach to Recovery volunteer who can provide comfort, emotional support and guidance. Volunteers are breast cancer survivors who give patients and family members an opportunity to express feelings, talk about fears and concerns, and ask questions of someone who is knowledgeable and a survivor themselves.
“After my surgeries, friends were always asking if I would talk to someone else who had recently been diagnosed. Since I had been very much ignored by the people whom I had asked for help at the beginning of my journey, I wanted to make sure that no one else would feel this way, and I was thrilled to be trained for Reach to Recovery,” said Vicki Liner, a Reach to Recovery volunteer in Rockland County. “I volunteered to be the Reach coordinator in Rockland so that I could be certain no one else would have the negative experience that I had.”
Reach to Recovery volunteers offer understanding, support, and hope because they themselves have survived breast cancer and have gone on to live normal, productive lives.
How it works
Through phone calls or face-to-face visits, Reach to Recovery volunteers give support for:
- People recently diagnosed with breast cancer
- People facing a possible diagnosis of breast cancer
- Those interested in or who have undergone a lumpectomy or mastectomy
- Those considering breast reconstruction
- Those who have lymphedema
- Those who are undergoing or who have completed treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- People facing breast cancer recurrence or metastasis (the spread of cancer to another part of the body)
Volunteers are trained to give support and up-to-date information, including literature for spouses, children, friends, and other loved ones. Volunteers can also, when appropriate, provide breast cancer patients with a temporary breast prosthesis and information on types of permanent prostheses. No products are endorsed. Aside from the emotional support provided, volunteers may also help connect patients with other resources within their community to help them through treatment and beyond.
For more information about Reach to Recovery, visit www.cancer.org or call the American Cancer Society toll-free at 1-800-227-2345.
Reach to Recovery volunteers
Reach to Recovery works through carefully selected and trained volunteers who have fully adjusted to their breast cancer treatment. All volunteers must complete an initial training and participate in ongoing continuing education sessions.
If you are a breast cancer survivor who has overcome cancer to regain a well-adjusted and emotionally stable everyday life, call us at 1-800-227-2345 or call your regional American Cancer Society office at 845-440-2500 to become a Reach to Recovery volunteer. Volunteers must be out of treatment for one year before being able to serve in the Reach to Recovery program.