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Reach to Recovery International

Posted 9/7/2013

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  If you are familiar with Reach to Recovery, you probably are thinking about the US group that is associated with the American Cancer Society. Begun in 1952 by Terese Lasser, a New York "society lady" who had been dismayed by the lack of support available when she had a mastectomy. Her story is quite impressive, and involves not only physical and emotional recovery from a very big operation (they were doing radical mastectomies in 1952) but fighting with powerful New York surgeons, walking right past nurses who tried to stop her visits, and speaking the words that were mostly closeted and shameful. As soon as she was well, she started to visit other women in the hospital, showing them how well she looked dressed (in fact, early volunteers were instructed to wear tight fitting clothing to better show off their "breasts"), bringing them instructions about exercises, and generally being a beacon of hope and support.

  Reach for Recovery in the US is a rather pallid shadow of its former self. As fewer women have had mastectomies, and all women spend less time in the hosptial, and there are many available support services, it has been less necessary. However, there remains an enormous need in many less well resourced and developed parts of the world for all the same reasons that were present in 1950s America. Their mission statemtns says "RRRI is a network of individuals, groups, and organizations committed to improving the quality of life for women with breast cancer and their families through peer support, advocacy and consumer involvement in research."

   You may be aware that I was invited to give a keynote talk as well as several workshop at the Reach for Recovery International Conference in Cape Town this last spring. It was an incredible week, and I wrote a lot about it on this blog. You can see those musings if you look down the right side of the blo's home page, select March 2013, and then the titles of the blogs will be obvious. I was incredibly moved by the work being done all over the world under very challenging circumstances, and I met many marvelous women.

  I am thinking about all of this today as I periodically receive their eNewsletter, Bloom.  It just came and I was quite interested in several of the articles and suspect that you may be, too. The easiest way to read it and to subscribe, free, if you wish, is to link from their home page. Look across the top banner, and you will see Bloom. The big photograph on their home page changes every minute or so, and I was delighted and surprised to see that one is of me behind the lectern, on the stage, in Cape Town.

  Here is the link, and I do encourage you to spend a few minutes on their site to feel part of a worldwide sisterhood: www.reachtorecoveryinternational.org

 

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