February's Mission Moment was written by Alicia Roberts, CBF Volunteer.
Susan Harper sees herself as a community-seeker as well as a community-builder. She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 while she lived in Michigan, and for the second time in 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Susan found solace in a support group offered by Atrium Health.
She found that walking--the daily exercise that had sustained her for many years--kept her strong. So, when Carolina Breast Friends launched the Walking With My Breast Friends & Co-Survivors program to embrace walking in the breast cancer community, Susan sought to establish a presence for Survivors & Thrivers in the Lake Norman area.
The group meets several times a month for fellowship, support and a stroll around Jetton Park.
Susan said the group welcomes people of all fitness levels, and they adjust the speed and distance of their walks for the whole group. Can't walk far without taking a break? They all stop to take photos of the beautiful scenery and have a chat.
After all, she explained, it's about the conversation and connections as much as it's about the exercise.
"I'm not a mentor type, but I can be the more causal, let's walk and talk type," Susan said. "I can be there to build a little community. ... That's what you need: someone who's been through it and can talk with you about it."
Susan learned about The Pink House from her online support group. She connected with a CBF Mentor who was able to talk her through treatment options and discuss what she knew about the mastectomy and reconstruction Susan was considering.
The mentorship is something she still appreciates, and says CBF matches people so well.
"You can have the most wonderful family and friends, but to have an objective, outside person who has been there and can offer advice is the biggest thing," she said. "The value of The Pink House is having that sense of community."
Susan said the cold weather has kept some walkers away from the Lake Norman Walking With My Breast Friends this winter, but she is always ready to hit the sidewalks. And she's hoping the milder temperatures of March, April and May will attract more Survivors & Thrivers.
Check our Programs Calendar for upcoming dates for the Lake Norman Walking With My Breast Friends & Co-Survivors.