by Wendy Demming, FORCE Peer Navigator Volunteer
I wanted to be a Peer Navigator because it is important for me to help others who are going through an overwhelming diagnosis. I remember being desperate for credible information, and wanting to talk to others who had been in a similar situation. I was so grateful when people were willing to talk to me about their journey and share any resources they had found along the way. The more information I got, and the personal support I received gave me courage and empowered me to make decisions for my health. I want to give others courage and support to help them feel empowered. Being personally matched with someone who listens and truly “gets it” is so helpful. I was excited to volunteer for FORCE’s Peer Navigation Program because it provides personal and invaluable information, making it easier for someone who is navigating through the overwhelming information and decision-making process. There is nothing else like it. This program empowers others on their personal journey.
I have been very pleased with the program. FORCE makes the process so easy. They send you all of the instructions and pathways based on each individual’s interest. The information is so valuable and helpful. I wish it had been available to me years ago. I let the person I am speaking with dictate how the call goes. Some people want you to discuss all the information, and others just want support and to hear about your experience. By the end of the call you feel like you are talking to a friend. It is so rewarding knowing I have helped someone feel less alone and truly understood. I feel empowered being able to give back and help others who are navigating through this journey.
Here are some facts that I would like to share with you about FORCE’s Peer Navigation Program:
- It is designed for men and women facing hereditary breast, ovarian and related cancers, regardless of their age, geographic location in the United States, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or socioeconomic factors.
- The Peer Navigator volunteers are previvors and survivors, 20-75 years old, at different stages of their journey, who have made a variety of risk-reducing decisions. This diversity allows FORCE to match individuals in similar situations.
- Support is available by phone and online at no cost anywhere in the country.
Peer Navigators must complete intensive training via the VolunteerFORCE Academy, which includes six expert-reviewed navigational pathways addressing 21 topics that commonly arise during a hereditary cancer journey. These pathways were reviewed by FORCE’s medical advisory board and VP of Education, Lisa Rezende, PhD. A Peer Navigator discusses the personalized pathway during a single call and email exchange that might otherwise have taken someone weeks or months to find on his or her own. This allows individuals to focus on what really matters—making decisions with their healthcare providers and families.
Here are the topics that an individual can select to create their own personalized pathway:
If you are interested in receiving personalized resources and 1:1 support from a volunteer who has experienced a journey similar to yours, FORCE’s new Peer Navigation Program is for you. Get matched for personalized support by visiting www.facingourrisk.org/pnp.
If you are interested in volunteering, why not turn your personal journey into something positive and pay it forward so others can benefit? FORCE is recruiting Peer Navigator Volunteers who meet the following criteria:
- people who have a BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, CHEK2, ATM, PTEN or TP53 mutation
- people with a variance of uncertain significance or negative genetic test result
- men with any mutation
- women who have undergone IVF or PGD with any mutation
- ovarian/fallopian tube, prostate and pancreatic cancer survivors with any mutation
- metastatic breast cancer survivors
- spouses of affected individuals
Fill out the VolunteerFORCE application if want to pay it forward and make a difference!Tags: brca, BRCA 1, BRCA 2, BRCA1, BRCA2, breast cancer, breast cancer prevention, cancer risk, cancer support, facing our risk, gene panel testing, gene testing, Genetic counseling, genetic testing, HBOC, hereditary cancer, ovarian cancer, PALB2, peer navigation, peer support, previvor, prophylactic mastectomy, prophylactic surgery, screening and prevention