Breast Cancer Warriors Step Up to Care for Their Own
By Kym Showalter
2020 has been a challenging year for all of us to say the least, but I had no idea it would start the way it did for me. In January, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. February brought surgery and then…waiting. My doctors needed time to get my pathology results back to figure out how my treatment plan would move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Saturday before my surgery, I decided to attend the Paws Fur Pink event with my family, where I headed for the Komen Orange County booth. At the booth I received tons of information, along with purchasing a pink dog shirt that said “Find a Cure Dog Gone It” (which we put on right away). There, I met a volunteer survivor who advised me not to get too overwhelmed by “Googling too much.” Her comment brought a smile to my tearful face, and I felt encouraged by her advice. She gave me a pink bandana to remind me that I am not alone in this fight. I saved the Komen OC info she gave me and knew I could reach out anytime.
In early April, I called Komen OC asking about wig salon services–and that phone call changed everything. Lauren Fix, Komen OC’s Manager of Mission Programs, listened intently, taking in my words as I described my needs. I texted her a few pictures of myself and my family so she could get a sense of my self-described “Phoebe haircut” (Remember Lisa Kudrow’s character from “Friends”?) I had no idea then just how much she absorbed every detail. After receiving my wig in the mail, I immediately texted Lauren: “I got the wig & love it! It really puts my heart at ease knowing I have at least something when chemo starts. I can’t thank you enough. Now going bald isn’t as scary.”
Lauren had also given me something just as uplifting during our first phone call: The dial-in information for Komen OC’s newly formed Coffee Chats for Survivors and Thrivers (a virtual weekly meeting space for those affected by breast cancer). I’ve joined several weekly Coffee Chats and gained some tips and tricks on how to prepare for treatment, what to expect, things to “Google” (and things not to “Google”), advice on speaking with family members and friends and more. These women have given me more support than they ever will know. It was so comforting to ask them questions about anything, but more important to know I was not alone and these women “get me”!
The wig has been wonderful, and the support Komen OC is providing me and other breast cancer survivors speaks volumes of how the organization has navigated the pandemic. Komen OC continues to prioritize breast health by restructuring programs and services—in addition to establishing the Komen California Response Fund, which is supporting community partners throughout the state in caring for, screening, diagnosing, educating and guiding patients through this especially trying time.
While parts of my road to recovery have been postponed due to precautions related to COVID-19, I am currently half-way through the next phase in my treatment and will continue to be supported by my Komen OC family! No other organization got back to me when I called in regard to wigs or any other assistance during this pandemic. I will never forget that, and because of that I feel it is my duty to share with everyone how awesome Komen OC organization is.
For more information about Komen OC’s wig salon, the Komen California Response Fund and to donate, click here.