A Little Wine and a Big Hug: Breast Cancer Survivors Unite

October 4, 2013
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By Judy O’Groman Alvarez

Breast cancer survivors, a sorority joined not by choice – and not limited to women – often have much in common with mothers.

Now with each bottle of Mommy’s Time Out Delicious Pink wine sold in October, a donation will be made to the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Lisa Frank, co-founder of YSC, thinks the connection – and the color pink – is great. “We need to do things that are fun,” the Red Bank resident says. “I’m honored that they want to donate to our organization.”

Lisa Frank, one of the founders of the Young Survival Coalition, with her bike in Washington, D.C., after riding in the Tour de Pink charity ride Sept. 29.

Lisa Frank, one of the founders of the Young Survival Coalition, with her bike in Washington, D.C., after riding in the Tour de Pink charity ride Sept. 29.

YSC is dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The organization offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful. Through conferences, online bulletin boards, fundraisers and a well-visited website, people touched by breast cancer – from the newly diagnosed to the concerned friend – can find help. Advice is offered on everything including how to understand medical terms to how to support legislative advocacy and how to buy a wig.

“A young woman diagnosed with breast cancer is not alone,” Frank says.

Frank makes it clear that cancer at any age is devastating. “But issues are different when you’re diagnosed later in life than when you’re young,” she says. “Many young survivors are just starting their careers, they’re dating, and they may not have had children yet.”

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In 1998, Frank was one of 13 women who formed YSC in New York City after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36. “We knew we needed to do something,” she says.

Among the projects they started was a charity bike ride to raise money.

Fifteen years later, the YSC has nearly 30 affiliates around the country, holds annual Tour de Pink bike rides – a 220-plus mile, multiday charity ride and their major fundraiser – in three areas: East Coast, West Coast and Atlanta, and includes virtual rides.

“It’s blossomed into a huge event for the organization,” says Frank, who just completed 71 miles of the ride last Sunday. Although it was not her strongest performance because her treatments didn’t allow her to train this year, she says she wasn’t going to miss a ride.

Frank, a vice president and lawyer for a payroll processing company, is a five-time cancer survivor and continues her fight.

“We know we’re getting breast cancer at ridiculous rates,” she says. “What’s important now is education and empowerment.”

She wants to tell women: “Know that when you’re diagnosed there’s a resource for you … Your body can do things. Your life is not over.”

During her journey, Frank has found the coalition invaluable.

“Being diagnosed metastatic, the support that YSC provided me, personally, has made a huge difference in my emotional and physical ability to fight this disease,” she says.

Being able to help other young women has been rewarding for Frank as well. “We all die some day,” she says. “Hopefully, this is not a death sentence.”

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Instead, Frank focuses on what women can do: “It’s helping to assure other women and their families that there are things you can do. There are all kinds of options out there. Become a part of our organization and you’ll meet other amazing young women … the survivors and the caregivers and others. We create an amazing community where we love and support each other for a cause.”

For more information on Young Survival Coalition, visit www.youngsurvival.org.


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