We are the Champions

| September 6, 2019


(“We Are the Champions” is a power ballad celebrating victory after a hard fought battle against long odds,” and was recently resurrected in the Oscar Award Winning Movie Bohemian Rhapsody about the Rock Band, Queen.) 

Hero.  Advocate. Champion.
Merriam Webster defines each of them this way:

Hero
1: mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
2: an illustrious warrior
3: a person admired for achievements and noble qualities
4: one who shows great courage

Advocate
1.one who pleads the cause of another
2: one who defends or maintains a cause or proposal
3: one who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group

Champion
1: Warrior. Fighter
2: a militant advocate or defender
3: one that does battle for another’s rights
4: a winner of first prize or first place in competition

These words have been used to describe me in the context of the work I perform. They are words inscribed on awards I have received.

Healthcare Hero. Passionate Patient Advocate.  Patient Champion.

Awards are great.  They validate the work.  And if I am truly honest, they validate me.

If nothing else, we as breast cancer survivors, need, enjoy and deserve a little validation!
Afterall, we survived and won what many refer to as “the battle”.

I know . . . . some of us, including me, don’t particularly like all the war and win/lose  analogies used to describe our cancer experience. But indulge me for just a thousand words.  I hope you will see where I am going with this.

Because Hero, Advocate and Champion are words that describe each of you as breast cancer survivors and co-survivors.
They are words that empower and heal us in survivorship.  And they are words that give purpose as thrivers.

“No bed of roses . . no pleasure cruise”
Many of you reading this have just been diagnosed, or are in treatment and not feeling anywhere near heroic, cannot imagine becoming an advocate or being called a champion.

“I’ve done my sentence, but I’ve come through . . . “
Others of you have “rung the bell” signifying the end of treatment.
Some of us have “moved on”.  We’ve packed breast cancer away in a box, sealed it and stored it in a corner in the attic of our minds.  And that is okay.

“I consider it a challenge before the whole human race . . .”
Others have us have chosen the route of hero, advocate and champion.

And we perform this work in many ways.  We walk, run, ride and dance to raise money for breast cancer charities whose work resonates with us.  We attend meetings, conventions and symposiums to learn more about the disease. We sit on boards as patient advocates reviewing grants for research hoping one day our efforts will help put an end to this disease. We cruise with Breast Cancer Wellness to enjoy fellowship with survivors.

For many the question of being called hero, patient advocate or champion is “Where do I begin?”

Resources for Heroes, Patient Advocates and Champions

National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project Lead
One of the best ways is to attend National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project Lead. It’s Founder, Fran Visco, was featured in the January 2015 edition of Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine. NBCC is “considered the premier science training program for activists preparing them to engage “in local and national forums where breast cancer decisions are made.” Scholarships may be available.
http://www.breastcancerdeadline2020.org/get-involved/training/project-lead/

FORCE
If you carry one of the BRCA genes or believe you and a family member may be at risk for breast cancer, FORCE, Facing our Risk Empowered, is a great place to learn and advocate.
www.facingourrisk.org/advocacy/index.php

State Breast Cancer Coalitions
Google by state. In Michigan, where I live, the Michigan Breast Cancer Coalitions motto is: Educate, Advocate, Legislate. Members attend conferences together, sit on advocacy boards at hospitals where they receive additional education, meet researchers and work toward policy change at the state and federal level.

San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium
Held annually in December SABCS is where the most recent, state of the art research is presented. Patients and advocates convene through a series of dinner meetings called Hot Topics presented by the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation.  These mentor sessions feature top docs and researchers who distill the day’s research in layman’s terms and allow survivors and advocates to ask questions. Scholarships are available.
http://alamobreastcancer.org/abcf_site/advocacy/

METavivor
“METAvivor exists to sustain hope for those living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Metavivior funds vital research to help improve the longevity and quality of life for MBC patients.”
www.metavivor.org/

National Comprehensive Cancer Network
National Comprehensive Cancer Network is a not-for-profit alliance of leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education dedicated to improving the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of cancer care so patients can live better lives.  Here is a list of additional breast cancer advocacy groups.
www.nccn.org/patients/advocacy/default.aspx

But what if all this seems like too much time, money and work, and you still want to help.

Being a hero, advocate or champion can be as simple as:

  • Attending a doctor’s appointment with a patient, and asking questions.  Afterall, you’ve” been there and done that”.
  • Companionship.  Talking to someone while receiving infusions can be a pleasant distraction.
  • Take a meal or have one delivered.  Savor Health is committed to delivering nutritionally balanced and tasteful meals for cancer patients. http://savorhealth.com/
  • Sign up to give a ride to treatment through the American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/involved/volunteer/road-to-recovery.html

Wherever you are in this “cancer journey”.  And however you decide to move forward in your survivorship, remember  . . . .
“We ARE the CHAMPIONS, my friends.
And we will keep on fighting to the end.”

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

mollyMolly MacDonald
Molly MacDonald is a 14 year Breast Cancer SurThrivor, and Founder and CEO of The Pink Fund.  In April she received the 2019 Patient Champion Award for North America from eyeforpharma. Her work with The Pink Fund has provided survivors and their families with just over $3.4 million in financial assistance for housing, transportation, utilities and insurance. She is a contributing writer to BCW, The American Journal of Managed Care and sits on the board of Value Based Insurance Design, VBID as a Patient Advocate. She recently became obsessed with QUEEN. To learn more, Give Help, or Get Help, visit, www.thepinkfund.org.

Category: Grow

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