October 2018 Ask the Expert: Giving Back After Breast Cancer

September 27, 2018

When you were diagnosed with breast cancer you may have gotten support from your friends, family and breast cancer organizations. The help you received may have left you wondering how you can give the same support to someone else or help the breast cancer community in some other way. 

In October, Living Beyond Breast Cancer staff members Lynn Folkman Auspitz, manager of community engagement; Jessica Betts, associate director of development; and Melissa Hamilton, resource coordinator, answered your questions about giving back after a breast cancer diagnosisinfo-icon.  Together, they answered your questions about how to get involved, from volunteering to fundraising to supporting others with breast cancer in person, by phone or online.

Remember: we cannot provide diagnoses, medical consultations or specific treatment recommendations. This service is designed for educational and informational purposes only. The information is general in nature. For specific healthcare questions or concerns, consult your healthcare providerinfo-icon because treatment varies with individual circumstances. The content is not intended in any way to substitute for professional counselinginfo-icon or medical advice.

 

As a breast cancer survivor, I get a lot of questions from people about my experience, and I love to share and help. How do I help other people find the information they need?

Melissa: It sounds as though you really enjoy helping people. That is wonderful. You can refer those seeking trusted informational resources to both our website at LBBC.ORG and our Breast Cancer Helpline Service.

Through our Breast Cancer Helpline callers can be matched to a trained volunteer for peer support from someone who has walked in their shoes. This service is provided free of charge. When someone calls into us, we will match them with a trained volunteer who has a similar experience, whether that is diagnosisinfo-icon type, stageinfo-icon, age or concern.

Based upon an individual’s breast cancer experience, our volunteers can also direct our callers to educational resources that can be found on our website, which is also where you can send people to learn more about breast cancer. Our offerings include our educational programs, blog stories and informational and educational content.   

Volunteers can also provide our callers with our free Guides to Understanding.  Each guide provides detailed information that has been reviewed by experts, plus tips, lists and resources offered by people like you.

In addition to providing our peer matching service, our Breast Cancer Helpline volunteers can help direct callers to trusted informational resources such as support groups, wigs, financial help and much more. 

I am a 4-year breast cancer survivor. I have done some things to give back: volunteer with Making Strides/American Cancer Society walk and mentoring online with Young Survival Coalition. I wanted to know other ways to give back, even as a career. Any advice?

Lynn: It is great to hear that you are giving back and interested in other opportunities. Our volunteers are very important to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Giving back can be a great way to heal from your own breast cancer experience. I often hear from volunteers that they get so much in return personally from giving back. 

We have quite a few ways to volunteer with LBBC. One way is our Leadership Volunteer opportunities: the Young Advocate Program (for those diagnosed 45 and under), the Community Connector program (for people with all stages of breast cancer and all ages) and the Hear My Voice program (for those living with metastaticinfo-icon disease). There is an application process and an in-person training. We plan to hold two leadership volunteer trainings in 2019. These opportunities are great for individuals who are passionate about outreach and advocacy and want to use their personal breast cancer experience to help others.

I believe volunteering can be a great way to ultimately make a career change. I started out as volunteer on the LBBC Helpline and then joined the staff of LBBC. You get to share your talents and learn new skills when you volunteer.

If you are not yet signed up to volunteer with LBBC, please do so to hear about upcoming opportunities.

I don’t know how much money I can raise if I do a fundraiser. Is it still worth it to try?

Jessica: Wow – that is a tough one! I’m not sure whether you have a specific idea and you’re not sure if it will be successful, or if you’re generally concerned about your fundraising abilities. Overall, the answer is: yes, it is worth a try. But I’ll be more specific based on each possible concern.

  1. Will my fundraising idea work? If you know what you want to do, take time to jot down your expenses (if you will have any) and do an income projection. Is this a fundraiser that will appeal to 20 people, or 50? Also, think about how you define success. LBBC appreciates anything you are able to donate, so set a modest goal. You can always exceed it! 
  2. Do I have what it takes to raise money? Many people worry that no one will want to donate to their cause. But we know one thing for sure: no one will give if you don’t ask. If this is your first fundraiser, keep it simple – a lot of people are surprised at their success! Consider something like a Facebook fundraiser, a change jar at your desk or even a bake sale. There are lots of fun, low-cost ways to engage people. 

The most important thing to remember, no matter what, is that the people you know will respond to your personal appeal. Make it clear why you want to support LBBC, and your connection to breast cancer and our organization. And if you want to talk through your fundraiser ideas, we’re more than happy to help. You can get in touch with me at development@lbbc.org and we can talk through your concerns.

 

How do I become a Breast Cancer Helpline volunteer? What kind of training do you get?

Melissa: Thank you for your question and interest in volunteering for LBBC’s Breast Cancer Helpline. Living Beyond Breast Cancer trains volunteers for our Breast Cancer Helpline every other year, or on an “as needed” basis as we work to meet the needs of our Helpline callers.

LBBC’s 2018 training for volunteers is currently full, but we do keep up an Open Interest Form for those interested in becoming a Helpline volunteer that you can fill out. By filling out this short form, your interest in our Helpline will be noted with our staff and will let us reach out to you when details on future trainings become available.

Currently, training to become an LBBC Helpline volunteer requires a mandatory 7-hour online training which includes a 1 hour pre-call, a 5 hour video chat training and a 1 hour post-call. We also require all helpline volunteers participate in two continuing education sessions held throughout the calendar year to assist in understanding the various and changing needs of those affected by breast cancer - from diagnosisinfo-icon, through treatment, recovery and throughout their lives. To best meet the needs of our callers, LBBC keeps a diverse group of volunteers of all ages, ethnicities and breast cancer experiences across the country to meet as many requests as possible. Volunteers who are interested in training for the Helpline are required to be at least 1 year out of active treatment for early-stage breast cancerinfo-icon or are living with metastaticinfo-icon breast cancer.

If you have any more questions about our Breast Cancer Helpline or volunteer opportunities for LBBC’s Helpline, please reach out to Melissa Hamilton, Resource Coordinator, at helpline@lbbc.org or at 610-645-4567 ext. 152.

I see during Reach and Raise that people get donations from their friends. How do they do that? What’s involved in asking your friends for money?

Jessica: There are so many different ways to ask people to support your participation in LBBC’s Reach & Raise!  We try to make it really easy and guide you through the steps.  The number one way to get people to donate? Ask!  Here are some ideas for making the ask easier:

  • When you sign up for Reach & Raise, create your own page, which you can personalize with your pictures and story.  Share why you are participating in the event, and why you want to support LBBC.  Tell your story!
  • Send emails to friends and family asking for support, and link to your page. 
  • Social media is another great way to reach people. This year, for Reach & Raise, we’re even integrating Facebook fundraising to make things easier.
  • Post to all of your profiles, with your story and a link.

Finally, there are plenty of non-digital ways to ask people for their support.  You can throw a happy hour, host a donation yogainfo-icon class orput out a jar for donations on your desk at work.  The possibilities really are limitless.

One tip: always make it personal!  Make a list of 10 people and write specific emails or post to their Facebook walls asking for support.  It is also important to thank people personally – let them know how much you appreciate them.

Of course, if you want to get more ideas, or get help starting your fundraising, you can just reach out to us here in the Development Department.  You can always reach us at development@lbbc.org.

I want to volunteer but I don’t know how useful I can be. What skills are nonprofits looking for? Is it still stuffing envelopes, or are there other ways I can contribute?

Lynn: Thanks for your question. There are so many organizations in which you can contribute your talents and find meaningful volunteer service.

At Living Beyond Breast Cancer we utilize our volunteers in many different ways. We have volunteers who help us at events, greeting our guests, helping with registration, stuffing goody bags and speaking on behalf and tabling for LBBC. We have volunteers who reach out to their healthcare providers to share information about LBBC. We have Leadership Volunteer opportunities in which we train individuals from across the country. Once they are trained they serve as an advocate and LBBC ambassador. 

I believe the most important skills in volunteers are passion, enthusiasm and commitment.  At LBBC, we strive to find the best fit for the volunteers skill set combined with the organization’s needs. When this balance is achieved, I find it creates positive and fulfilling experiences for both the individual and the organization.

If you are not already a LBBC volunteer, you can sign up here.