For more than 40 years, the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program has helped people (female and male) cope with their breast cancer experience. This experience begins when someone is faced with the possibility of a breast cancer diagnosis and continues throughout the entire period that breast cancer remains a personal concern.
“When people first find out they have breast cancer, they may feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, and alone,” commented Mike Lefler, Director of Communications for the Nebraska Region of the American Cancer Society. “While under this stress, many people must also learn about and try to understand complex medical treatments and then choose the best one. Reach to Recovery allows these patients to have a little bit of guidance and stability during the entire process.”
Talking with a specially trained Reach to Recovery volunteer at this time can give a measure of comfort and an opportunity for emotional grounding and informed decision-making. Volunteers are breast cancer survivors who give patients and family members an opportunity to express feelings, talk about fears and concerns, and ask questions of someone who is knowledgeable and level-headed. Most importantly, Reach to Recovery volunteers offer understanding, support, and hope because they themselves have survived breast cancer and gone on to live normal, productive lives.”
How it works
Through face-to-face visits or by phone, Reach to Recovery volunteers give support for:
- People recently diagnosed with breast cancer
- People facing a possible diagnosis of breast cancer
- Those interested in or who have undergone a lumpectomy or mastectomy
- Those considering breast reconstruction
- Those who have lymphedema
- Those who are undergoing or who have completed treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- People facing breast cancer recurrence or metastasis (the spread of cancer to another part of the body)
Volunteers are trained to give support and up-to-date information, including literature for spouses, children, friends, and other loved ones. Volunteers can also, when appropriate, provide breast cancer patients with a temporary breast form and information on types of permanent prostheses, as well as lists of where those items are available within a patient’s community. No products are endorsed. Aside from the emotional support provided, volunteers may also assist patients with other resources within their community to help them through treatment and beyond.
For more information or to locate a Reach to Recovery program in your area, visit “In Your Area” on our Web site at www.cancer.org or call us toll-free at 1-800-227-2345.
Reach to Recovery volunteers
Reach to Recovery works through carefully selected and trained volunteers who have fully adjusted to their breast cancer treatment. All volunteers complete an initial training and participate in ongoing continuing education sessions.
If you are a breast cancer survivor who has overcome cancer to regain a well adjusted and emotionally stable everyday life, call us toll-free at 1-800-227-2345 or call your local American Cancer Society office to become a Reach to Recovery volunteer. Volunteers must be out of treatment for one year before serving in the Reach to Recovery program.