At Carolina Breast Friends, we understand the one-of-a-kind, meaningful support that mentoring provides. That's why our 1:1 Mentoring Program is so important to our mission. We match Survivors at any point in their breast cancer experience with other Survivors who have a similar diagnosis and treatment history but who are further down the road in navigating the journey.
Tara Walker--a Survivor who received mentoring and has gone on to become a mentor to others--describes it this way, "It's like 'match.com' for breast cancer support."
We're proud to use National Mentoring Month as an occasion to celebrate our mentoring program and all of the mentors. Becoming one of our mentors involves both a vetting and an orientation process, but it really begins with a willingness to give back to other breast cancer Survivors.
Says mentor Dena Richards, who was diagnosed in 2015, "When going through my treatment, I knew that what I was dealing with wasn't just for me, but to be a blessing and testimony for someone else that would have to walk the same path." Mentor Kim Menillo, who was diagnosed in 1988, shares a similar refrain from her own perspective, "As a long-time survivor, I want to give encouragement and hope to those newly diagnosed. Being able to offer solace, wisdom and humor means so much when people are frightened and not sure of what their future will be."
We currently have 31 mentors in our program, helping more than 100 other Survivors through various elements of the breast cancer experience--from dealing with the news of their diagnosis, to what to expect from treatment, to adjusting to the ongoing ways that having breast cancer can change your life. Sometimes mentoring consists of just a single phone call at a vulnerable time. Sometimes it's an ongoing safety net of support and insight. But always, it's about the power of one Survivor talking to another who has been where they are going.
It's no wonder that our mentoring program so often becomes a centerpiece of support and uplift to the breast cancer Survivors it serves. But the rewards flow in both directions. Explains Dena, "It's fulfilling to help others and share my story. It reminds me of how grateful I am for life and how blessed I am to still be here." Mentor Lana Truong, who was diagnosed in 2002, shares, "This program has helped me find purpose."
This two-way street of empowerment creates a win-win for this unique service for breast cancer Survivors. Says our Executive Director Lynn Erdman, "I am so proud we offer this service. Our mentors provide a true gift of support, hope, and friendship that is uniquely shared by a fellow Survivor."