Rachel Picher: The Strength of Community Support

Posted on: July 31, 2014Florida

At Bosom Buddies of Women’s Center of Jacksonville, I have had the honor of walking with women at every stage of their breast cancer journey, from first discovering symptoms or dealing with increased risk and genetic susceptibility, through diagnoses, treatment, healing, and dealing with the difficult symptoms of metastatic cancer and advancing disease.

I remember, one of the first events I participated in with Bosom Buddies was the "Public Forum on Breast Cancer" hosted by Oncologists, Radiologists, and other Cancer specialists at UF Health Jacksonville at the Omni Hotel.  It was only my second week with Bosom Buddies, and I knew absolutely no one, but it was my role to organize our members, guide them to their seats, and make them feel welcomed and comfortable.

The Bosom Buddies members were open and friendly in getting to know me (they played a hugely important role in orienting me to Bosom Buddies and educating me about their skills and interests and the history of the program). But I had a problem: half-way through a night full of talks on the early symptoms of breast cancer, signs of recurrence, chemotherapy, radiation, and lymphedema, my skin began to crawl.  I thought about what a difficult disease breast cancer could be, how I am personally at risk (over the course of my lifetime), and how terrified I, personally, would be if I were ever diagnosed.


For those with close, personal experiences with breast cancer, I know they would have a very different experience than I had with this organization.  For me, it was really powerful to learn just how utterly normal life-threatening illnesses, chronic illnesses, disease, and death, are in women's lives.  But it is also utterly normal and very, very beautiful how families, friends, and communities come together to support each other through these times.  At the end of this year, I find myself less afraid about my future, generally, and more confident in the strength of my relationships and my community to support me in a time of need.