As we've said before, breast cancer didn't stop because of a pandemic, so neither did we.
Despite the doors of the Pink House temporarily being closed earlier this year, we retooled and mobilized with ways to deliver all of our core services remotely--particularly our sessions! Not only did that transition go smoothly, it turns out to have yielded even more benefits than we anticipated.
Since April, we've delivered more than 120 virtual sessions in all of our program categories--Wellbeing, Nutrition, Education, Self-image, and Support. To our joy, in many cases, more people are attending these sessions than we could even fit into the Pink House if the sessions were held in person! And that isn't the only benefit.
Because guest speakers and instructors can participate from their own homes and offices, we've been able to bring leading experts to our Survivors that might otherwise have been more challenging to arrange. Since April, we've heard from nearly a dozen top medical and research authorities, such as Dr. Lyerly, the lead researcher on Duke University's groundbreaking breast cancer vaccine and Dr. Greenfield, who is the head of integrative medicine at Novant Health. We've also been able to bring in industry-leading beauty pros from New York City to the west coast for our "Be You, Be Beautiful" sessions. Here in Charlotte, culinary artisan and Cancer Exercise Specialist Laura Coleman, of CAN-cer Vive Fitness, is teaching fantastic cooking classes from her own kitchen each month!
Of course, the guest speakers aren't the only ones who benefit from being able to participate from home. Survivors can more easily join in a session no matter where they are in their breast cancer journey or how they are feeling on a particular day. One woman recently shared with us, "I did not even know what Zoom was a few months ago, and now it is my life line... I have been able to take part in much more than I would if I had to go to the Pink House." She continued, "Of course I miss the personal connections at the Pink House, but I am much healthier because of these [virtual] opportunities, and I think this may help to ward off a reoccurrence."
Carolina Breast Friends' Director of Programs & Volunteers, Leslie Verner, agrees about the sessions being a life line for Survivors. Says Leslie, "During this challenging time, it has been so rewarding to offer our programs virtually. Being able to see each other's smiling faces has allowed us to stay connected while learning and supporting each other at the same time."
To further make our sessions more accessible to anyone living with breast cancer, we also launched a YouTube channel and are posting recordings of most of our sessions as well as a "Strength Training with Confidence at Home" video series in partnership with CAN-cer Vive Fitness. With 40 videos and counting, anyone experiencing or caring for someone with breast cancer can find in-depth and meaningful content to watch.
We thank everyone who has helped make these virtual and video sessions a success. Because of the rewards this programming is yielding, you can expect the "Virtual Pink House" to remain a thriving element of our work even after we are able to begin holding sessions in-person again.