Survivorship paddlers hold up pink carnations to honour women fighting breast cancer and those who have lost their lives on the last day of the Penticton Dragonboat Festival in 2019. Many Survivorship paddlers have become volunteers of Tomorrow’s Hope. (Western News file photo)

Survivorship paddlers hold up pink carnations to honour women fighting breast cancer and those who have lost their lives on the last day of the Penticton Dragonboat Festival in 2019. Many Survivorship paddlers have become volunteers of Tomorrow’s Hope. (Western News file photo)

Offering Tomorrow’s Hope for women diagnosed with breast cancer in South Okanagan

Penticton dragonboat group along with other women offering support, resources

Cathie Lauer, one of the founders of Penticton’s breast cancer survivor dragon boat team ‘Survivorship’ is hoping to reach more newly diagnosed women to offer support and resources with a new program.

“Through this amazing group of dragon boaters we have started a support program for anyone diagnosed with breast cancer in the South Okanagan,” said Lauer.

The support group is called Tomorrow’s Hope. But with COVID-19 taking center stage, other diseases like cancer have taken a backseat even as women across Penticton and the South Okanagan are still being diagnosed with breast cancer. According to Lauer breast cancer affects one-in-eight women in B.C.

“Our goal is to reach out to the newly diagnosed and provide them with supports and resources. Being diagnosed with cancer is devastating as our group of volunteers knows and we have made a significant difference to many women since starting our program in 2011.”

RPR Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning recently donated to Tomorrow’s Hope. The funds will be used to purchase resources for the information kit and care package that is provided to those starting cancer treatment.

Over 200 kits have been handed out since they started Tomorrow’s Hope, with one kit provided each week through the hospital.

“Our goal is to provide a confidential support system, both emotional and informational to anyone diagnosed with breast cancer. We strive to provide a volunteer that has a similar diagnosis and treatment plan to pair with our participants,” said Lauer.

Lauer herself is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

“I was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44,” she said. “The cancer came back in 2014.”

As a registered nurse and a survivor, Lauer decided she wanted to learn everything there is to know about breast cancer and resources to help women going through it.

That’s what inspired her to start Tomorrow’s Hope.

The group has secured the support of local surgeons and Penticton hospital, which enables them to visit patients in the hospital and offer support if they want it. They have also secured the kits to get in the hands of women who have come to the hospital with breast cancer.

Surgeons give the women a kit that contains a book written by a B.C. oncologist about everything you need to know about breast cancer. The kit also contains local resources for wigs, bras, prostheses and physiotherapy.

All volunteers have official volunteer status within the hospital, have completed criminal record check screening and receive extensive training. They attend training and lectures on mammography, social work, pathology, supportive services such as wigs, prostheses, bras and much more.

“First and foremost, our volunteers are breast cancer survivors themselves. We’ve all been there and we can help navigate this complicated and frightening journey,” says Lauer.

The group encourages newly diagnosed to contact them.

“They can really benefit to have someone to talk to that’s been through it all,” she said.

To learn more about the program or access the supports provided by Tomorrow’s Hope, email info@tomorrowshope.ca.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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