By Andrea Karl, BS
Support Connection Peer Counselor
“One call…..will make all the difference.” That’s what you’ll hear from those who call us.
You have our number, you’ve visited our website and Facebook page, but you still wonder if we can help and how we help. During our office hours (Monday through Friday, 9-5), the Peer Counselors on our staff, cancer survivors themselves, are here for you. They are answering calls and emails, and meeting with people. Take a minute and call. Let them tell you “Yes, we can help you” and explain how we can make a difference.
I made that call. My name is Andrea. I’ve been a Peer Counselor for Support Connection for 11 years. Twelve years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At that time, everyone kept telling me to call Support Connection, but I didn’t know what to say. I thought I could do this by myself. I was wrong. I took one step forward, two steps backward…. two steps forward one step backward. I was stuck in the diagnosis going nowhere fast.
Then one day my family left the house and I just slid onto the floor in a sobbing heap. (I call that my “Bad B Movie Moment.”) Still crying when I picked myself up, I called Support Connection. I said “I don’t even know what type of doctor I’m supposed to be using…. can you help me?” They did. One call to someone who had been diagnosed. Someone who not only understood how confused, lost and vulnerable I was, but also saw the strength and courage I could no longer see. That one call made all the difference.
Patty and Kathie also made that call. Patty called in 2008 after seeing our brochure in her dermatologist’s office. She called that first time seeking information on wigs. A Peer Counselor gave her the information she needed. From that moment on, Patty knew we were here for her… when she needed us to be, and for whatever need she had. Once she was finished with her treatments, Patty started attending a support group. We were still there for her.
Kathie was diagnosed in 2012. Seeing how upset she was, Kathie’s daughter brought her directly to our office. Kathie spoke with a Peer Counselor. After they talked, Kathie said she could finally breathe again. Kathie continued to call and speak with a counselor throughout her treatment. She joined the same support group as Patty.
In the years since they first connected with us, Patty and Kathie have both attended support group and other programs. They’ve also both continued to utilize our Peer Counseling service. Whether it be concern for upcoming medical appointments or test results, or the long-term physical and emotional fallout from surgery and treatment: they call, email or stop by, and we are here continuing to make a difference.
Patty and Kathie recently volunteered together to represent Support Connection at a health fair. A young woman stopped by their table and said her mom had just been diagnosed. She was concerned for her mom. Kathie and Patty explained the work we do. The mom wasn’t a joiner and the daughter wasn’t sure if our services were right for her. Kathie and Patty explained how important that first contact was for them. They encouraged the young woman to tell her mom that even if she simply called here once, it would make all the difference in the world. It did for them. As different as Patty and Kathie are as people, and as different as their situations were, their experiences were the same: that first contact made all the difference in the world.
Call us. You don’t need to have a specific agenda or question. Just call and say you want to talk. We’ll let you know how we can make all of the difference in your world or the world of someone you love. 914-962-6402 or toll-free 800-532-4290.