Last Wenesday, the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program premiered a video, Teens Talk About Breast Cancer geared toward answering questions and concerns young women might have about the disease. The video premiere was dedicated to Meghan Halloran, a Garden City resident who died of breast cancer last month.
Halloran was a volunteer with the Adelphi Breast Cancer Hotline and was very interested in working with teens, particularly because she did not want others to have to go through what she did. Halloran found a lump when she was only 24 years old and was told by a doctor to disregard it because she was too young to have breast cancer. Two years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer by a breast surgeon. She put up a seven-year battle against the disease but succumbed to an infection in September. Her immune system was so weakened by the disease she was unable to fight off the infection.
"She had a zest for living and was always smiling," said Caroline Mulcahy a social worker with the Adelphi Breast Cancer Program, of Halloran. "She was very inspirational and upbeat. She was going to fight this and do whatever she could to educate teenagers and try to prevent people from having to go through what she went through."
Teens Talk About Breast Cancer is one of the ways the Adelphi Breast Cancer Program is trying to help teenagers. The video is 15 minutes long and features real teenagers asking questions and expressing their concerns about the disease, such as: "If there is breast cancer in my family, will I get it?" "Will I get breast cancer if I am punched in the chest during sports?" and "What can I do to prevent breast cancer?" Teens Talk about Breast Cancer also features basketball star Rebecca Lobo and her mother Ruthann talking about what it was like for them when Ruthann was diagnosed with breast cancer. The two tell about their experience in coping with breast cancer in the family and encourage young people to discuss their concerns and ask questions.
Teens Talk About Breast Cancer is the only video of this kind. The feeling was that there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there among teens that needed to be cleared up. The Adelphi NY State Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program developed this video with the Greater New York City Affiliate of the Susan G. Kormen Breast Cancer Foundation, which also funded the film. Additional funding for the video was provided by New York State Senator Kemp Hannon.
The Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program, although it is not funded by Adelphi is run out of the Adelphi School of Social Work. The program was founded in 1980. Two women approached the Adelphi School of Social Work, through the college's Social Services Center which reaches out to the community to meet any unmet needs, and these women said that they had breast cancer and there was nothing out there for them. These two women started a support group and as time went on it continued to grow and in an effort to do more for breast cancer victims, the hotline was started. In 1986 funding came down from the New York State Department of Health to cover the metropolitan area and in 1990 it became a statewide program. It is a nonprofit agency supported by grants from the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Legislature. The agency also receives some private and corporate funding as well.
The agency is made up of approximately 100 volunteers and eight staff members. The staff is comprised of two part-time social workers, two full-time social workers and four people who do administrative work. The staff supervise the programs, supervise the training for the volunteers, interview volunteers, and oversee the program components.
One of the program's components is the hotline, which is run 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Although it is not always staffed if a person calls they are guaranteed a call back the following day. People who man the hotline answer a wide range of questions. People call if they had a biopsy and discovered they need surgery, if they have questions about chemotherapy, if they need transportation for their treatments, if they have questions about the financial aspects of breast cancer, or if they have questions about something they heard about breast cancer in the news, just to name a few of the situations the volunteers handle. Approximately 95 percent of the volunteers at the hotline have had breast cancer themselves. The program has what they call a specialty list so if someone calls with a question about a particular type of cancer they can speak to a volunteer who has or had that type of cancer. If someone wishes to speak with a long-term survivor of breast cancer, they can. If they want to speak on any variety of topics there are volunteers who will speak to them on specifically about that subject.
In addition, the Adelphi Breast Cancer Program does individual counseling, family counseling and offers support groups. If several people seek a particular support group that the program does not offer, they will start one for those people. The Adelphi Breast Cancer Program also goes out into the community and presents educational programs to schools, health fairs, and different types of functions. "Our mission is to educate, support, empower and advocate for breast cancer patients, professionals, and the community in general," said Mulcahy.
For further information about the video or other breast cancer concerns, the hotline can be reached at 800-877-8077. Help is just a phone call away.