(ARA) – When a woman is first diagnosed with breast cancer, all kinds of questions go through her mind, and not all of them are about the cancer itself. “Will I be able to remain active? What kind of impact will treatment have on my lifestyle? Can I still be intimate with my significant other?”
When California resident Mary Jean Lynberg was first diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer back in 2004, she felt numb and physically ill. “My doctor had informed me that the type of tumor I had was fast growing and as a result, she would be very aggressive with my treatment. She told me that meant several rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and maybe even surgery. I was very aware that life as I knew it was going to go through some drastic changes,” Lynberg says.
According to the American Cancer Society, 40,000 women (25 to 30 percent of women with breast cancer) are diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer every year. HER2 is part of a family of genes that play roles in controlling cell growth. In some breast cancers, for reasons no one understands, cancer cells have too much HER2.
Shortly after Lynberg was diagnosed, one of the first things she did was seek information and comfort online. “While I found several support groups that helped me get informed about my special form of breast cancer, I couldn’t find a site that spoke to the rest of my life – those topics that could benefit me on the road back to wellness,” she says. “I wanted to learn more about how to live the type of lifestyle I had before battling the disease. Would I still be able to enjoy my passions, like golf and travel?” Thankfully, Lynberg was able to continue pursuing those passions in one form or another, partly because her treatment included an oral therapy that she could take wherever and whenever she needed it.
Today, Lynberg’s breast cancer is in remission, but she remembers the struggles she faced at the time to figure it all out. However, she is happy to learn that the women who follow in her footsteps will not experience that same struggle. Launched this September, a new online resource is helping women and their loved ones continue to live a healthy, active, on-the-move lifestyle despite their cancer diagnosis.
HER Move (www.hermove.com) is the first ever Web-based, lifestyle program specifically for women in all stages of HER2-positive breast cancer, including the newly diagnosed, those living with advanced or metastatic disease and the long-term survivors. In addition to a unique offering of health and wellness information, there are resources that inspire women with HER2-positive breast cancer to live life to the fullest as best they can by staying on-the-move and living a healthy and active lifestyle.
Marybeth Bond, a travel expert and author of 11 travel books for women, is among the experts who have material posted on the site. “Travel has an uncanny way of taking us back to the simplicity that makes life precious again. A close friend recently told me that her first trip after diagnosis marked the beginning of hope – hope that she could live the life she had pre-cancer.”
But the key, points out Bond, is to recognize that “travel” has many definitions. “An afternoon visit to a botanical garden, a day cruise on a lake, or a walk in the woods with a loved-one can turn your attitude upside-down, change negatives into positives and pain into purpose.”
Those who have questions about intimacy, sexual connection and romance – generally not topics that are easy to discuss with your doctor, let alone their partner – can find answers courtesy of Ruth Peltason, author of the book, “I AM NOT MY BREAST CANCER.” A breast cancer survivor herself, she interviewed hundreds of women from all walks of life to get their take on the topic and shares what she learned on the site.
There’s also a section dedicated to caregivers headed up by HER2 Support Group’s (www.her2support.org) Joe Druther, whose wife, Christine, is a breast cancer survivor. “While being a caregiver can be stressful, there are many support groups made up of people like me who were unexpectedly given the role of caregiver. It can take some time to get adjusted to this new role, but know it is a crucial one – one that may be challenging at times, yet rewarding because you are, after all, helping someone you love.”
In addition to sharing resources, the site also creates a community where women can share their personal stories, anecdotes, recipes and photographs among new friends, and learn from the experiences of others. HER Move was funded and developed by GlaxoSmithKline Oncology.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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