Friday, February 22, 2008


When I was on strike and I had a lot of time on my hands, I decided to take on some more volunteer work. See, when I was diagnosed, I didn't do any "support" stuff. I did go online at and chatted in a chat room. But other than a couple very wonderful women who emailed me through my initial steps, I didn't do support groups, go to Gilda's club, contact Komen, race or make strides for anything. I just did my thing.

And upon reflection, it was pretty fucking isolating. I mean, I lived 3 hours from where I got treated. I didn't have close friends anywhere near me. In fact, I didn't even have a friend I could call where I lived. I knew no one who had had breast cancer - no one I knew well, that is. And I sure as hell didn't have any exposure to anyone my age with breast cancer.

I had my husband. And my family. Well, most of them, at least. And I had a good friend who had recently finished treatment for lymphoma. Both he and my aunt were good for commiserating about chemo. Neither of them had disfiguring surgery. Or hormonal therapy for 5 years. On the whole, I didn't really have a "community" belong to - people to connect with. Nothing.

And I never realized how much I needed that until I finished treatment. Ironic, huh?

So as I get further and further out from treatment, it's occurred to me how much I want to help other people along the path. So I've been doing that in numerous ways... one of them is currently my favorite way to volunteer.

I am now a trained Y-Me peer hotline counselor. What? Well, let's say you have breast cancer. Or think you might. Or have a friend who does. And you have no one to talk to. You go online and search for breast cancer support. You might find the Y-Me website. Y-Me is the oldest breast cancer support organization in existence. Anyway, you see on their site that you can call this hotline anytime, 24-7 and speak to a breast cancer survivor. So you pick up your phone and call 1-800-221-2141 and...

"Hi, this is Courtney. How can I help you?"

Insert imaginary conversation here.

So yeah. I flew to Chicago where they trained me in everything from basic cancer knowledge to how to deal with crank callers. I am currently in the process of setting up my home network to accept calls via VOIP. As in, I sit in my jammies and answer calls through my computer.

Yep, that's right. Volunteering from your house. In your yoga pants.
Helping people from the comfort of your own home.

Fan - freaking - tastic.

So if you have breast cancer and need help, give us a call. I just may be on the other line.


Sandy Cook said...

Check out

The leading breast cancer organizations offering support for women with breast cancer, as well as ovarian and metastatic cancers.

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