Mentoring, Part V
I hope you have enjoyed our mentoring series! Amanda and I had such fun talking about these issues, emailing, and learning more from each other as we put together this series. If you haven't already read the first four (4) parts, two written by me and two by Amanda, please take a moment to read through each of them. I think you'll learn a thing or two regardless of where you are in the process of mentoring or being mentored. As promised in Part IV, I want to highlight some organizations that provide mentoring training and connections since I do think that having support from people who "get it" is really key.
Mentor training organizations for metastatic breast cancer patients
After Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD) is a non-profit out of Wisconsin that has been around since 1999 and was founded by an on-air celebrity who personally experienced early-stage breast cancer that eventually metastasized and ended her life. While many of its initial services were local, ABCD expanded virtually prior to and during COVID and relies on its database and staff to make and monitor the matches with personal touches from the staff. I was trained as a mentor through ABCD virtually before COVID and have seen how they've risen to the challenge of COVID. ABCD is excellent in training and mentoring early-stage breast cancer patients/survivors and their program is really well set up to do this. Their offerings are limited to those involved with breast cancer.
Imerman Angels is a non-profit out of Illinois and relies a little more on virtual and online interaction than ABCD; another difference is that it does not have a training program per se, but relies on documents and regular updates to educate mentors. Imerman recently partnered with a non-profit local to me, the 305PinkPack to expand its Spanish speaking mentors and has been extremely open to my suggestions to revise documents and marketing to better include MBC patients and ensure that we feel welcomed from the beginning. Language, as we know, really does matter! I've been part of Imerman Angels as a mentor and have received matches from them. In contrast to ABCD, Imerman serves more types of cancer than just breast cancer.
Project Life is a non-profit out of Oregon that was formed and is staffed by those of us living with MBC. Broadly, Project Life is a virtual wellness house focused on the survivorship experience of those of us living with MBC and will be welcoming our first mentor training class in October of 2021. MBC is the only focus of Project Life, unlike other programs, and all matches will be made and monitored by MBC patients. Diversity and ensuring that all people living with MBC have matches that look and sound like them is a core value and checks and balances are present to ensure that happens in addition to having a Diversity/Inclusion Director and partnership with Tigerlily and their diversity pledge.
Full disclosure, I am the Director of Mentorship for Project Life and left other organizations in order to focus on building the mentoring program.
Why are these programs important for MBC patients?
Because those of us living with a terminal illness deserve a program that is specifically tailored to us from the beginning and only staffed by people who get it. Because those of us living with a difficult experience need to know that the people we interface with when we need help are able to understand where we are coming from. Because those of us living with MBC deserve to have our experiences and our needs placed FIRST. Because those of us living with MBC needs to be matched with someone who matches our life experiences.
MBC patients are worth it
I'm sure you can tell that I have a bit of a bias here and I do! However, the bottom line for me is that mentoring is something that is vitally important, and however you find that is individual to each person. Whatever you do, reach out. We all need community. We all need help. We all need partners to walk this path of living while dying.
Do you currently have a mentor?
Have you ever changed your treatment regimen because you were experiencing side effects?