Breast cancer survivors support one another

Breast cancer continues to be a major health concern for women all over the United States, and having a strong spirit to beat it is very important. One Marquette County woman did just that with the help of a few special friends.

“Five years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Jean Schultz. “And, whoa, it hits you like a ton of bricks.”

What was supposed to be a routine checkup for Jean, turned into a day that would change her life forever. “I had just went in for my basic yearly mammogram, and there was a lump that was found. Before you knew it, I had gotten the call…and it was cancer,” recalls Jean.

Jean’s life revolved around her diagnosis and, for a full year, she lived in a state of depression and loss – until she finally went to a breast cancer support group. She said, “One day, I decided, ‘Okay, I’m going to go,’ and I could barely speak my name, even after a year. It still had been consuming me. I went and it just kind of changed. It all changed for me.”

“The first time a lady walks into that room it’s quite intimidating and very…scary,” said UPHSM Cancer Patient Care Coordinator Danielle Haanpaa. “They’ve just gotten a diagnosis that is going to potentially change their lives.”

“It’s just a reassurance that that you’re not in this alone,” said breast cancer survivor Penny Aldrich. “That you have a sister out there somewhere that has gone through the same thing that you have. You’re not by yourself.”

The breast cancer support group at U.P. Health System-Marquette has been around for over 20 years, and is more than just a meeting place. “We really have formed bonding, life-long friendships with these ladies who have one for sure thing in common, which is breast cancer,” said Haanpaa.

“I was just like everybody else going on, and I got cancer, and it changed my life,” said Aldrich.

And, as for Jean? She said, “I’ve come a long way since then, and hopefully I’ll continue to be good.”

The group meets once a month at U.P. Health System-Marquette, and also does a teleconference with women in Baraga and Manistique. All meeting are at 6:00 P.M. on the second Thursday of every month in Conference Center Room 4 (third floor, east wing).

The Breast Cancer Support Group also hosts guest speakers and other events as follows:

-February 12: Jim Lajoie, Executive Director, Superior Health Foundation – Breast Health Fund
-March 12: Lynn Bartanen, Financial issues and solutions for the Breast Cancer patient
-April 16: Support Session
-May 13: Dinner at Coco’s in Marquette (Please RSVP)
-June 11: Support Session (4:00 P.M.)
-July 9: Support Session (4:00 P.M.)
-August 13: Support Session (4:00 P.M.)

For more information, contact Danielle Haanpaa, RN, BSN at 906-225-4899.

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