Breast Cancer Awareness Month: YWCA Survivor

October is the month of awareness and support for many different things such as last week’s topic of domestic violence. Another being breast cancer, a disease not only affecting the women within our facility but 1 in 8 women nationwide. In a situation such as the one below, the empowerment and support system at the YWCA could be the only thing a woman has.


*Martha had been the sole caretaker of her mother since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. Over the course of those years, and as her mother’s condition got worse, Martha quit her job enabling her to give her mother the attention and care she required. Martha lost her mother in 2013, followed by a stage of depression and anxiety.

“It seemed like after I lost my mom, everything came…depression, anxiety, everything. I guess taking care of her was the main priority. I knew there was something wrong because I would get sad and stuff, but I never knew it was depression. I would just put that on the back burner, you know, and when she passed, it all came at once.”

Following the death of her mother, Martha was offered a place to live with her brother and his wife. What looked like an opportunity to regather herself with the support of what little family she had, proved to be less of a blessing than anticipated. Not long after the move she discovered a lump on her breast, soon diagnosed as stage four breast cancer. Not only did this bring painful chemo and hair loss, but the start of physical and mental abuse from her brother. To keep a roof above her head, Martha allowed this to continue, until one afternoon she was given the news that she would no longer have a place to live due to the family moving.  From the direction of a mentor, Martha found a home at the YWCA.

“Basically, the Y helped me through it all. Without the Y and the women at the Y, I’d probably be dead right now. I’m in remission from cancer, and I plan to keep doing chemo. I’m even getting my own place in two weeks after being here a year.”

Martha spoke to us about the support she received from not only the staff but the other women staying in the facility, and how much of a difference it made when dealing with these challenges. The idea that she had a home and a family to come back too was exactly what Martha needed to get back on her feet. With such a high number of women being affected by breast cancer, it is important that we not only bring awareness to the severity of this disease, but celebrate the survivors such as Martha.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month #FightLikeAGirl


*Name has been changed for confidentiality.

-Kari Wissel

Development and Marketing Coordinatorbreast_cancer_awareness_sticker-p217567485899299612envb3_400