Tell us about yourself.
I'm the founder/facilitator of Bosom Buddies, a breast cancer support and education program of the Women's Center of Jacksonville. In addition, my husband Jerry and I are writer and editors and co-authors of "Tears of Joy," the story of our cancer journey together. We also speak around the country and Canada on cancer survivorship and cancer caregiving (speakersforlife.com).
When were you diagnosed?
May 22, 1986
How has cancer changed your outlook on life?
My life turned totally around when the doctor gave me a prognosis of "five years at best," due to a very advanced breast cancer. My first thoughts were that I was too busy to die and that no other woman would wear my jewelry. I had absolutely no training to become the founder of a breast cancer organization. I had been a professional Latin-jazz musician (bass player/singer) for more than 25 years. I knew no one who had cancer and there was no history of it in my family. Finding no support groups in Jacksonville (Florida), I quickly decided to educate myself about the disease and turned to the local community college for help. I wrote a curriculum on cancer survivorship, had it approved by the State of Florida and began Bosom Buddies as a "course" in cancer survivorship in 1988. In 2000, I joined forces with the Women's Center of Jacksonville, a full-service, non-medical, nonprofit women's center. Over the last 22 years, Bosom Buddies has served as a lifeline to women struggling with their diagnosis, helping more than 7,000 women in the greater Jacksonville area through weekly support groups, breast health presentations, health fairs, information and referrals and other services, all of which are free. I found my passion and my lifework and thank God that I can still be a vital part of the organization at 74.
What words of encouragement would you share with others with cancer?
The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship defines a survivor "from moment of diagnosis for the balance of life." There are more than 11 million survivors out there, all of us "hanging in there and living well on borrowed time." It's your choice to be a survivor or let yourself become a victim. Survival is real! Fear and ignorance about the disease are the enemies. Learn all you can about your cancer and learn to advocate for your own needs. You may have cancer but cancer doesn't need to have you. You are a member of an incredible sisterhood, all of us tied together by the same pink ribbon. You don't have to take this journey alone. We're with you every step of the way.
Support this non-profit in honor of Bobbi:
The Women's Center of Jacksonville's Bosom Buddies
Please support those battling breast cancer by donating.