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Buddy to Buddy: The sisterhood of survivors

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family...whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."

Julie Chase of Cape Porpoise considers herself a team player. "I've always been a part of the team and grew up being an athlete, and have a really tight group of family and friends. And when I got diagnosed with breast cancer, even though I had all those supports, I really felt alone," she says, "I was the first person in my peer group that I knew of that had been diagnosed, my immediate tight circle, I didn't have anybody my age to talk to. I knew some older people but I really was just craving, like, trying to figure out, 'How do I work? How do I get through this? And how do I get back to life?' So I just started doing research."

That research led Chase to some online resources (see below), as well as the Dempsey Center in Lewiston where she started making connections. "I would see someone across the room and I would be like, 'hmmm, she seems like somebody I could be friends with. I'm going to ask her to have a cup of coffee with me,'" she says, adding that putting herself out there was crucial. "There's a saying: Your vibe attracts your tribe."

Before long, Chase says she found herself surrounded by women who all share a special bond. "I don't know where the future will lie for me but I now know that I have a team of women that I can count on that will be there for me no matter what."

In turn, Chase says she does her best to help other people who are, as she puts it, just coming on to the team. "When I finally connected with other people it meant a lot. And so I'm trying to do what I can to encourage other women to not feel alone and to realize we are here to coach you, we are here to wrap our arms around you, and give you the space that you need but also to understand."

Here are five online resources Chase says were especially helpful to her as she sought out camaraderie and comfort:

1. Yoga in Action - virtual yoga classes Before Covid, I went on Tuesday nights in Kennebunkport. "Classes are free to anyone newly diagnosed, in cancer treatment, surgical recovery or are in remission. Active caregivers are also welcome to attend. No yoga experience is necessary."

2. Dempsey Center - Virtual Cancer Support Services - what can I say that hasn't been said before? They have also pivoted during Covid and have a wide variety of virtual programming. There is something for almost everyone!

3. Betty J. Borry Breast Cancer Retreats - Before Covid, they held multiple "adventure" retreats each year. With Covid, they have also been able to hold space virtually for women to connect and have other kinds of adventures.

4. The Joe Andruzzi Foundation - Amazing non-profit organization committed to providing help, hope, and a reason to smile, for New England cancer patients and their families by contributing financial support when it is needed most. Big, huge LOVE in this organization!

5. My Breast Cancer Support -They provide financial and emotional support to breast cancer patients throughout the Greater Seacoast area of New Hampshire and Southern Maine.

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