We will share WLBZ's Buddy to Buddy videos, articles and posts to help encourage you to do your monthly self exams and to encourage your family members and those you care about to perform them as well.
BUCKSPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- When something threatens your life, your family is also threatened. Your first instinct is to protect your family, especially your kids. You want to shield them from hearing bad news and cancer is not an easy subject to talk about.
At 36-years-old, Shannon Connor was diagnosed with breast cancer and her fear and uncertainty consumed her. Shannon's mother battled breast cancer previously, but in 2006 her 11-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter were now going to watch their mother go through this battle. Shannon believed it was important to have an open and honest conversation with her children.
"He came in to talk with me and I said, 'yes, I have breast cancer' and we are going to have to wait and see what happens. The first thing he asked me, 'are you going to be bald like grandma?' and I said I don't think so, I don't think I'm going to lose my hair,'" said Shannon.
Clinical Health Psychologist at EMMC Robert Ferguson said it's important to be open with your kids by providing them with realistic answers to their questions to help lessen their fears, while keeping in mind their age and saying things in simple terms.
"It's okay to say mom is sick. And the doctors are working with mom to have some treatment done and sometimes the treatment will make mom tired. Explain very specifically what the symptoms will be, what the side effects are and how that can interrupt the day."
Shannon explained breast cancer to her daughter, Haley, at the time, through a demonstration that she would be able to understand.
"I kinda said a story about moldy cheese. Like if there is a little piece of mold on it then we will just cut it off and everything will be fine."
BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Jane Sawyer didn't appreciate the full value of exercise until after her battle with breast cancer.
"No. No. Not really, I was always busy. I had three kids and a job, but going to the gym, no. No, I didn't do any of that."
Studies show that choosing a healthy lifestyle helps breast cancer survivors. Researchers said exercise can reduce long-term effects of treatment, improve range of motion and increase strength and flexibility.
Sawyer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and part of her remission journey is being physically active. Bangor YMCA offers a 'Thrive with Exercise' program for breast cancer survivors, so together these woman can kick cancer in the rear. The program will provide an atmosphere of encouragement and motivation for survivors in the workout group.
Breast cancer survivor Dixie-Lea Thayer said this exercise group is a sisterhood. They welcome any breast cancer survivor into their workout group. Thayer was diagnosed 11 years ago with cancer in one breast, and two years later, in her other breast.
"It's made me a stronger person and being able to cope with whatever life has thrown at me. It (the workout) energizes you, but it also makes me feel better about my body. And I just feel healthy emotionally and physically," she said.
The program runs in 12 week sessions and meets twice a week. For more information call Tammy Hodgdon at 941-2808 or email her at thodgdon@bangorY.org.
HAMPDEN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Karen Rudge's strong will and support from family helped her throw cancer to the curb.
Breast cancer has affected millions of women -- and many of us know someone who has fought it -- whether it is a family member, a friend, or even a co-worker.
Rudge said having a positive attitude is half the battle. She believes having her family and close friends surrounding her helped in the healing process.
"It wasn't beating me, I was going to beat this. And I think it's very important to have a positive attitude because it's so easy to be down and I just think a positive attitude has been one of my biggest helps," Rudge said.
During her treatment, normalcy was key, so she kept working just cut down her hours.The positive attitudes from her kids helped spread the affection of moral support even during the most emotional moments.
Rudge's daughter and son captured the moments along the way, so she can always look back on her journey. They shaved their heads and got tattoos that had the breast cancer emblem to help support their mom.
"She (hairdresser) shaved all of their heads and it was like everybody was a little different, one was a little short with the ribbons out and one was longer with the ribbons in," Rudge said. "My daughter had 16 inches cut off with a ribbon shaved into her head and it was quite emotional."
It's in the candid moments where everyone joins in the fight to tell Karen's cancer to "take a hike."
Karen's advice for other women is take the time to research and fully understand what is going on. She said it is also important to make decisions that work best for you.
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