Young Advocates, Strong Friendships
Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Young Advocate Program provides the tools and training to help young women use their personal breast cancer experience to make a difference in their communities by raising awareness, furthering their understanding of the disease and advocating for others. This opportunity is geared toward women diagnosed with breast cancer before age 45 who live in the United States.
One perk of this program is the opportunity to connect with other young women like you. Many of our Young Advocates, like the ones profiled in this article, have formed strong, lasting friendships with each other.
Roberta “Bobbi” Albany is 48 years old and from Mount Penn, Pennsylvania. Alysia “Pinkey” Pringle is 44 years old and from St. Petersburg, Florida. The women took part in a Young Advocate training as part of Breast Cancer Today: Individual Treatments, Shared Experiences, Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s 2015 annual conference, held in Denver that year. They met as random roommates, but left as friends, and have maintained that friendship since.
Both women consider themselves introverts, and neither expected to form close bonds with anyone at the training. They marvel at how a random process paired up two people who have so much in common and get along so well.
“I’ve heard horror stories of folks being roommates, but we just kind of clicked,” Bobbi says.
Of course, they had breast cancer in common. They were both diagnosed with stage II breast cancer under age 45. That’s why they were attending the training. That, and because they both wanted to make a difference in their communities and spread awareness about issues related to having breast cancer at a young age. But that wasn’t all. In addition to breast cancer, Bobbi and Pinkey bonded over many things, not least of which was the fact that they both have autoimmune disorders as well.
Even though friends and family want to be supportive, both women say, they can’t really understand how their loved one feels after being diagnosed with a serious illness like breast cancer.
“A lot of people don’t know what you’re going through,” Pinkey says. “When you have that person who understands you fully, you can just shoot out a text message and check up on each other, and keep each other posted on what’s going on in the community.”
Living so far apart doesn’t stop the women from connecting. They talk, text and communicate using social media regularly. They also get to see each other in person occasionally, including at LBBC conferences.
“You go to conferences and you know you’re going to see each other and connect. You have somebody to bond with.” Bobbi says. “You have that roommate that you trust and you can sit down and talk to. … So it’s just having that person who gets it, who you can call or text each other, pretty much just lean on each other and sometimes cry it out with one another, because we get it and we understand.”
The women encourage people interested in the Young Advocate program to keep an open mind. After all, you never know – your random roommate could become a dear friend.
“For it to turn out the way it did,” Bobbi says, “it’s a blessing.”
We are now accepting applications for the next Young Advocate training! It will be held on July 20-22, 2017, in Boston, Massachusetts. The deadline to apply is May 19, 2017. Potential applicants may be contacted for an interview as part of the application process. Applicants will be notified whether they have been accepted or not by June 2, 2017.