Life After Breast Cancer: Survivors Gather for a Sanford Health Retreat

this is the fifth year the hospital hosted the retreat

FARGO, ND — Two years ago, Andrea Malm was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.

“You’re going to grieve. It’s sad. It’s hard. When I was diagnosed, my mom was with me. That was hard to see her break,” she said.

She can now say she’s a survivor. Malm is in remission and is adapting to life after cancer.

Sanford Health held a breast cancer survivor retreat for patients like Malm.

“We care about them beyond the chemotherapy,” said Shelby Terstreip, Sanford Medical Oncologist. “Cancer care is not just the treatment, it’s your whole health in general.”

Survivors learned how to live well after a cancer diagnosis and got to know one another better.

“There’s people I’ve literally went home afterwards and went ‘how did I meet that person and I feel so blessed to have met them,'” Malm said.

She encourages more survivors to attend retreats because she says it’s hard to do it all alone.

“I don’t have all the answers, and I’ve learned so much from other people,” Malm said.

One in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. They experience an emotional, physical and financial toll.

“We have people meet with financial counselors right from the beginning of their diagnosis,” Terstreip said.

Sanford also provides surveys to women when they get their mammograms to assess their risk of getting breast cancer.

“We call that a big success because that person was ‘unknown’. They didn’t know that they had an increased risk,” Terstreip said.

Terstriep says survivors do have the chance their cancer will come back.

Malm understands but says survivors have to look at the life ahead of them and make memories.

“At some point, whether it’s cancer or something else, I’m not going to be here. But that’s everybody’s story,” Terstreip said. “Make sure and focus on the positive and learn from others.”

Similar retreats will be held in Bismarck and Sioux Falls later this month.


Here’s some good news.

The death rate from breast cancer in the U.S. appears to be dropping.

That comes from officials with the American Cancer Society.

They said death rates from breast cancer have dropped 39 percent between 1989 and 2015.

That makes nearly 323,000 lives have been saved in 26 years.

Doctors said the decline is due to improvements in treatments and early detection by mammograms.

But the work isn’t over yet.

African American women still have higher breast cancer death rates and it is the most common cancer among women in the U.S., after skin cancer.


The “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign is underway during October which is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

You can donate to anchor TJ Nelson’s campaign to save lives from breast cancer.

Go to KVRR’s homepage and click on the “Real Men Wear Pink” banner to make a donation or click here.

Thanks to those who have already been so kind to give money.

Categories: Business, Community, Health, Local News, News Landing Page, North Dakota News