In collaboration with Black Women’s Health Imperative, we’re focusing on African-American women and Breast Cancer this month. September is also National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, so we’re introducing you to the Young Sisters Initiative. It’s a great resource for young black women with breast cancer.
Young Sisters Initiative (YSI) is for African American women under age 45 who have breast cancer. The Sisters Network, Inc., a national organization focused on breast cancer and the African American community, developed YSI.
Sisters Network also developed a breast cancer awareness program for young African Americans called Teens for Pink. If you’ve already been diagnosed though, check out YSI.
Young Sisters Initiative: A Guide to a Better You
YSI covers many topics including how to cope with emotional issues. It also covers breast cancer-related sexual and reproductive health issues during your diagnosis, treatment, and after.
The program is available online and is available in both full and shortened versions. You can also download the full version of this guide through the program to get more in-depth information.
Much of the program’s design is based on responses from young breast cancer survivors (YBCS). This is in regard to how Sisters Peer Counseling in Reproductive Issues After Treatment (SPIRIT) could be improved.
SPIRIT was an older version of a workbook for African American women who had dealt with breast cancer. Sisters Network, Inc., relied on these responses when developing the YSI program and workbook. All YSI materials are carefully reviewed by experts in the breast cancer field. You can be sure that the information you are getting is correct and up-to-date.
Eight Sections to Promote Your Healing
There are a total of eight sections included in the YSI program and guide.
The first section focuses on breast cancer, treatment, and aftercare. Through this section, you will learn about current information relating to the breast cancer journey of young African Americans. The section discusses why African American women are more often diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45. It explains what the different stages of breast cancer mean, and how treatment affects your breast cancer. Information about different types of breast cancer is also included.
In the second section, you learn about your family and its role in your breast cancer risk. You can read about so-called “pink flags” that indicate breast cancer may run in your family and get information about whether you should receive genetic counseling to determine your own risk. It discusses coping with concerns about inherited breast cancer. The section also suggests what to do if the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation is not present in your genes.
Beyond the Physical
In the third section, the focus briefly shifts away from the physical attributes of breast cancer. You will find numerous strategies to help you cope. You’ll also find information about the emotions that you will most likely feel. This can be extremely helpful, especially if you find that there is a stigma about mental health within your family or group or friends.
Section four handles issues relating to living with breast cancer. This includes any problems you may face, from issues with family and friends to workplace issues. Through this section, you learn about building a support system, returning to work, and your rights as an employee during and after your treatment. While it is certainly normal to feel helpless during much of your breast cancer journey, your life is still in your control. This section of the YSI program can help you recognize and use that control.
After section four, the YSI program and guide begin delving into extra concerns that many women have. Section five focuses on premature menopause and its connection to breast cancer, while section six discusses health and beauty and section seven focuses on sexuality and dating. Finally, section eight helps you navigate fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood after breast cancer. Although these final sections focus less on medical and support system information, they can be invaluable if you are struggling with any of these topics. You will find information about such things as nutrition during treatment, enhancing your sex life after treatment, and dealing with premature menopause.
Additional Resources for Young Black Women With Breast Cancer
Meanwhile, it offers helpful websites. Some contain general information about breast cancer. Others discuss support for young breast cancer survivors and genetic testing, and some focus on African American women and breast cancer, specifically.
You can also find some detailed answers to several common questions on the YSI FAQ page. This will help you get some quick answers about a wide range of topics without having to read through the entire program or guide.
The information and resources offered by the YSI program can be invaluable, especially given the relative lack of information and groups focused on addressing the unique needs and worries of African American women with breast cancer. If you would like to read more about Young Sisters Initiative or read through its program and guide, please feel free to check the program’s website.