Breast Friends: Through Good Times and Bad
FM Breast Friends offers support to women with breast cancer
FARGO, ND — It’s the phrase no one ever wants to hear: “You have breast cancer.”
The reality is there are many here in metro that have.
More and more these days, you hear of someone being diagnosed with cancer.
As shocking as the diagnosis is, what people may not realize is how long it follows you even after you’ve been told you’re cancer free.
While each person’s story is different, it’s a time when they could use someone who knows what they’re going through.
It’s been nearly a decade since Krystal Anderson, of Horace, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Anderson says, “I was diagnosed in 2009 with invasive lobular carcinoma and at the time; I was just 42. That’s actually considered a young survivor and from that day on, I considered myself a survivor.”
She’s been through it all, chemo, surgery, radiation.
She’s also been taking a hormonal prescription for the past 10 years to help keep the cancer from returning.
“And I will going off that now at the end of the month,” added Anderson.
Anderson isn’t alone.
In fact, she’s a part of group that has roughly 150 members in this area.
All these women have or have had breast cancer.
Stephenie Herbranson, of Moorhead, says, “This is a sorority that nobody wants to join and we’re all part of it and it’s the sisterhood.”
FM Breast Friends is a support group that allows these women to join together and build a strong foundation.
“Many of us have great support systems through our family and friends, but they really don’t know exactly what it’s like going through it unless you’ve been through it,” says Anderson.
Herbranson adds, “It’s a huge part of my life; it’s huge.”
They get together for monthly meetings, and in between for what they call ‘tweeners.’
“We’re trying to do more educational events for our members,” says Herbranson.
For those that are newly diagnosed, many don’t know what to expect.
Anderson says, “That’s a lot of what has helped me, emotionally and often times, there’s suggestions that people talk about that help them through it, achy muscles, what can you do for those, joints.”
The reality is that it’s not all parties and fundraisers.
Why they come together is never far from their minds.
Kristin Erickson, of Fargo, says, “It was super tough. I’ve never had such devastating news in my life. It gave me a total feeling of hopelessness. You just kind of wanna curl up and not have to face it.”
Erickson was diagnosed in 2012.
Her mom and her aunt had breast cancer before her.
Doctors discovered her family had the BRCA gene, which is hereditary.
Like Anderson, she went through chemo therapy, radiation and surgery.
“This spring of this year, I was re–diagnosed, found out it had spread, so I’m now Stage 4 and going through treatment again,” says Erickson.
Herbranson says, “It’s everybody’s fear and it can happen to anyone. You’re never free from it. It can come back at any time and you just never know.”
It’s in these darkest moments when even the little things can make a huge difference.
“We’re going to get together to make freezer meals for those going through pretty harsh treatment,” says Herbranson.
And like a best friend or in this case a ‘breast friend,’ it’s having someone there to be by your side through good times and bad.
Anderson says, “They’re scared; it’s helpful to have someone who’s been through it. We’ve all been there and this will pass.”
The women I spoke with say some are referred to the group through friends and family members, others through their physicians.
If you or someone you know is battling breast cancer and would like to join the group, you can contact them online through their Facebook page.
For more information, click here.