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Surviving Cancer and Making Friends

10-Aug-2010

Click the play button to listen to the interview:

Austin, TX
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women, and the second-most common cause of cancer death in white and African Americans. Almost 200,000 women each year are diagnosed with breast cancer. The numbers and statistics can seem overwhelming to most, especially if you’re included in the statistics. KUT’s Julie Moody introduces us to one woman who didn’t want to be just a number among thousands of other women, but rather someone who did something that could help others in the same prognosis.

Almost 200,000 women each year are diagnosed with breast cancer. Where do all these women go for support and help?

Brenda Coffee is one woman who didn’t want to be just a number among thousands of other women, but rather someone who did something that could help others with the same prognosis.

She describes herself as the girl who did everything right. She watched what she ate; she exercised on a regular basis, slept 8 hours a night. You know the drill. Then six years ago, at the age of 54, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She says it felt like she put a wet finger in a light socket.

Coffee said that most of the resources she could find from her home in Boerne, Texas didn’t help her find more information for support and help. Most she found were focused mainly on a cure. Justine Hall with the American Cancer Society said that, although funding research for a cure of all kinds of cancer is an important part of the society’s mission, in recent years they’ve tried to connect those dealing with cancer better.
Brenda Coffee’s experience from treatment to recovery led her to create her own blog and website, BreastCancerSisterhood.com. Along the way, she encouraged others to share their experiences.

Amy Gutierrez is a blogger who shares her experiences with cancer on Coffee’s site. Gutierrez’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer two days before her 13th birthday.

Gutierrez is now 19. Her mother survived. But Gutierrez said that what she blogs about things parents might not think about when talking to their kids about cancer. Like, be prepared for a “new” normal in the household.

That kind of intimate knowledge of what it’s like for your mother to go through treatment is something only someone who’s been there that can honestly speak about.

Brenda Coffee’s website isn’t the only place to share experiences. The American Cancer Society has a survivor network and a separate website for families to post videos. Even Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation offers a wide variety of information and support too. But Brenda Coffee wasn’t satisfied with what the big organizations offered. She said on her own blog, she can act like a friend.

Recent topics on Coffee’s blog range from helpful and delicious tips like dark chocolate can be good to eat to prevent cancer to intimate details of her sex life.

It’s just one example of how the internet can be used as a tool to connect strangers to one another when faced in similar circumstances.
— Julie Moody

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