Health Magazine

The End of an Era…Goodbye Y-Me

Posted on the 19 July 2012 by Jean Campbell

Last week the Board of Directors of Y-Me, a national breast cancer organization, abruptly shut the organization’s doors, claiming financial necessity as the reason for closing. A day later, the Y-ME website was gone.

Since its founding over 32 + years ago, Y-Me has been a  trusted resource providing needed educational information about breast cancer.

YGone also …Y-Me’s  24-hour, multilingual telephone support service, staffed by volunteers who are survivors. These volunteers provided  comfort, support, and information to newly diagnosed women and men. Most of all, they gave hope, simply by their having survived breast cancer .

The Y-Me telephone support service was billed as the only multilingual, 24/7 telephone support service for breast cancer in the U.S. Last year alone, volunteers spoke to over 40,000 persons affected by breast cancer.

From my own personal experience, I can say that Y-Me’s telephone support service was a godsend following my my first breast cancer diagnosis. The day after my 1 step surgery of a biopsy/lumpectomy,* I was on the phone trying to get information about next steps for treatment, what to expect, etc. I called several breast cancer organizations and spoke to knowledgeable professionals. While I appreciated the information, which was factual, it was also flat; it didn’t deal with the practical issues of getting through treatment, nor did it help me get a handle on my emotions, which vacillated from panic to a doomsday scenario.

Then I called Y-Me. I found their number in a web search. I got a wonderful woman, then in her 7th year of survival following an invasive breast cancer. I still remember a good part of what she said to me in our 45 minute conversation.

She talked me through my panic as only a survivor can. She gave me practical suggestions for getting through treatment. Most of all she gave me hope that I could get through treatment and get on with my life. She helped penetrate the loneliness and isolation that I felt as a result of my diagnosis.

What I got from that Y-Me volunteer, that day, was the impetus for my work as a patient navigator in NYC’s public hospitals. I wanted to pay-it-forward by being there when others needed comfort and support following their cancer diagnoses.

Whatever Y-Me’s reasons for closing, I just want to thank the organization, its staff, and those wonderful survivors who comforted so many of us at an overwhelming time in our lives.

I can only hope that another breast cancer organization has the funding, skilled staff, and trained volunteers, who are themselves survivors, to step up to the challenge of providing a multilingual, 24/7 telephone support service on the order of the Y-Me service. It is desperately needed and absolutely invaluable service.

*At the time of my first breast cancer, thirteen years ago, it was not unusual to go into a biopsy with the understanding that, if the pathologist found a cancer while the patient was on the operating table, the surgeon would go ahead with either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.

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