March 19, 2018

Workshop aims to empower, support and connect young breast cancer survivors

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YBCSN 2018 logoEach year, about 237,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States, with about 11 percent of those cases found in women younger than 45 years old.

On Saturday, April 14, young breast cancer survivors and their families will have an opportunity to meet one another and learn about resources available to help them after their cancer treatments during the 6th Annual Young Breast Cancer Survivors Workshop at UAB Alumni House.

The workshop is an initiative of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing, led by Karen Meneses, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, professor and associate dean of Research. The workshop is hosted in collaboration with the Young Breast Cancer Survivorship Network, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, SurviveAL-Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivorship Network and Forge.  

The free event will include sessions for young women facing breast cancer on what to expect after treatment, important tips on nutrition, surviving with focus and stress management using meditation. Breakout sessions will include how to talk to children and teenagers about breast cancer, and how to deal with financial distress and budget for expenses related to cancer treatment and staying healthy. In addition, male co-survivors will find a session just for them to share their stories about caring for a loved one with breast cancer. 

A highlight of this 2018 Workshop is Don Dizon, M.D., FACP, sharing his expertise on “After Breast Cancer: Perspectives, Problems and Promises.” Dizon is the director of Women’s Cancers at Lifespan Cancer Institute, director of Medical Oncology at Rhode Island Hospital and associate professor at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Education, support and networking are the focuses of the one-day workshop. Jacqueline Vo, BSN, a Ph.D. candidate in UAB’s School of Nursing and one of the event organizers, says survivors’ networking is one of the most important components. 

“It’s important for the young survivors and their families to meet others who have gone through similar experiences,” Vo said. “We also want to make sure they know we are here for them. The workshop gives them an opportunity to connect with nurses, physicians, psychologists and nutritionists so they can talk about their specific needs.”

At the end of the workshop, the program will close with a Zumba activity.

Vo says young survivors, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify as people diagnosed with breast cancer at 44 years old or younger, face unique challenges that do not typically impact the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer due to their age. 

“Many have questions about fertility and pregnancy, or how this will impact raising young children,” Vo said. “We want them to have the resources not only to find the answers they need, but to support others who are going through similar experiences. We want them to know they aren’t alone.”

The event is scheduled from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the UAB Alumni House, 1301 10th Ave. South, Birmingham, AL 35205.

To register, visit the workshop website. For more information, email surviveAL@uab.edu or call 205-975-8656.

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