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Helping A Friend With Breast Cancer

One in every eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime, which means that nearly all women will have a friend battling the disease. This week we are focusing on the power of friendship and have two friends share their experience.  Maren and Francesca had been friends for 17 years when Maren discovered she had Stage 3 Invasive Ductile Carcinoma.   Francesca lived too far away to assist Maren daily, but started a GiveForward page to help Maren cover daily expenses for her and her two daughters. 

When did you first start to think something was wrong with your health?

Maren: I first realized something was wrong when I felt a small pebble like lump in my right breast.  I made an appointment with my ob-gyn immediately.  At the appointment my doctor suggested that I get a mammogram and an ultrasound of my breasts.  So, I did.

Francesca: I didn’t know anything was wrong until Maren texted me at 6:15 in the morning saying we needed to talk.  Ironically, the text came as I was stepping off the elevator onto the Oncology unit of the hospital that I work in.  After she told me she had breast cancer, I was so upset that I had to leave work early.  As I pulled into my driveway, I composed myself and knew what I had to do.

After learning about your friend’s breast cancer diagnosis, what was the first online resource was you visited?

Francesca: I immediately went to the American Cancer Society’s web page.  They have such great resources and programs! The representatives are knowledgeable and comforting.

The American Cancer Society has been the best resource for me so far in terms of understanding her diagnosis and resources that are available to her.  Obviously, GiveForward has been amazing in terms of my fundraiser.  I love the encouraging emails that I receive when someone makes a donation!! Setting up her page could not have been easier. Donating is made simple as well.  It’s highly trusted and has great reviews so it made our donors feel comfortable making donations.

What was your biggest worry when you hear of your diagnosis?

Maren: My first thought after hearing my diagnosis was my two little girls.

Francesca: My biggest worry or fear was losing her.  I see cancer patients daily.  I see their struggle, their families struggles and in a lot of cases death. I now refuse to have that fear.

How have you overcome your fears or obstacles?

Francesca: I’ve overcome the fear of losing her.  I’ve educated myself on her diagnosis and her treatment plan.  I’ve been empowered by our friendship and more importantly HER strength.   We’ve been through so many chapters of our lives together that this has just become another one.  I’m comforted knowing that she has so many family and friends helping her.  I was determined to help as best I could even though I now live 8+ hours away.  Within a day of learning she had breast cancer, I had her GiveForward page up and splashed across social media.  I’ve also learned that when rallying for a loved one, there is no fear in asking for help.  I am almost overwhelmed at the amount of support and enthusiasm we’ve received in terms of her fundraising.  People have donated their space, their time and money in helping me organize an event in her honor this month. I couldn’t be more thankful.

Maren: My faith in God and knowing that he’s in control of all things.  I know that he is going to take care of me through this journey.  I’ve overcome fear in general.

What do you wish you knew earlier?

Francesca: There wasn’t much time between her learning she had breast cancer to me finding out.  It’s only been 6 weeks or so I think that there wasn’t much more I could’ve known earlier. I just know that I will do everything I can do to support her from here on out!!

Maren: Being I am only 33, mammograms aren’t even suggested until the age of 40.  So there isn’t much I could have done or even known about being I was below the recommended age for mammograms.  However, I encourage all young women to check themselves regularly and make sure they get their annual exams.

Whose world will you change?