New group goes ‘beyond’ to help breast cancer patients
The wall of boxes that are meticulously organized by bra size and the armoire anchored by wigs and prostheses are clear indications that KARA KENAN and JOY WADE’S new nonprofit goes beyond the typical pink program for breast cancer. In fact, that is just what their aptly named GOING BEYOND THE PINK organization hopes to do for the local community when it opens its doors this month.
In addition to physical resources such as bras, wigs, prostheses, and skin care items for radiated skin, Kenan (above) and Wade created Going Beyond the Pink to also be a resource center to help breast cancer patients navigate the sometimes murky waters of treatment.
“Our main mission is education,” says Kenan, the group’s president and a breast cancer survivor. “Breast cancer can affect anyone from the teen years to the elderly, and men, too. We want to touch the lives of everyone in the community.”
Having previously worked with another breast cancer organization, Wade provided support services to Kenan while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Both educators, the two immediately formed a bond and have since become a powerhouse of passion, determined to educate the community.
Going Beyond the Pink will offer a variety of classes that address “breast health and education before, during, and after cancer.”
To educate people about their breasts before cancer, Wade, the group's program manager, developed the class “What’s normal, what’s not?” to help women and men recognize changes in their own breasts using breast models designed to calibrate mammography machines. Formally trained as a certified self-breast exam instructor, Wade teaches how to do a comprehensive exam, visually and tactically, “the right way.”
“We teach people to floss to take care of our teeth, to do self-skin exams to check for skin cancer, why don’t we teach people to take care of our breasts?” Wade says. “Simple things like knowing what normal is, so if you notice a change, we can learn to take care of ourselves and keep an eye out, and we can prevent a lot of heartache.”
In 2017 alone, it is projected that more than 8,400 women and 65 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the United States. North Carolina breast cancer rates average slightly higher than the national average, and in the tri-county area of New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties, it is projected that nearly 500 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
For those who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer and their families, Kenan and Wade will offer the course “Thrive.”
Thrive will have experts from the medical community address topics such as physical therapy and pain management, as well as experts in supplemental therapies such as yoga, meditation, and essential oils to guide patients throughout treatment and well into their recovery.
“Cancer does change your life, and if you want it to, it can be for the better. Our community has so many ‘pink’ organizations, but so few have comprehensive education programs. We will help fill that gap in the community,” Kenan says.
Going Beyond the Pink will act as a liaison between the patient and the many organizations in the area that provide assistance to those with breast cancer.
If a patient needs help with non-medical related bills, there’s an organization that can help with that. If someone needs a support group, there’s one for that, too. Or, if a patient needs pain management, there’s a whole facility that deals with cancer patients and their pain.
Going Beyond the Pink can make these connections for the patients, organizers say.
“Any need there is when it comes to breast cancer, we can fill it,” Kenan says. “We are not looking to reinvent the wheel. We just want to help connect breast cancer patients with all the incredible help that’s out there.”
Another class the group will offer is designed to help patients to navigate the financial world of breast cancer.
“Need can look very different from one family to another, and people need help getting through this,” Kenan says.
And thanks to their partnership with Pink Trash, Going Beyond the Pink will be able to provide financial assistance to patients, also.
“Our focus is local, about educating and helping in every way we can,” Kenan says.
Class schedules and events are listed at www.goingbeyondthepink.org
To view more of photographer Katherine Clark's work, visit katherineclarkphotography.com.