Free breast cancer expo in Tempe to provide tips, support for women - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Free breast cancer expo in Tempe to provide tips, support for women

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Posted: Friday, July 25, 2014 8:00 am

A Gilbert-based organization has organized an event late next month to offer a plethora of resources and support for breast cancer victims.

The event, My Hope Bag’s Breast Cancer Resource Expo, will have organizations like the Virginia C. Piper Cancer Center, doctors and surgeons on hand to provide advice to breast cancer victims and their families.

“When women are going through their breast cancer, they don’t know the resources available to them,” said My Hope Bag President Sarah Ellery.

The expo is an extension of what My Hope Bag provides women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, as the organization provides bags with information and other items. Items include a notebook for journal writing, a pocket calendar, a back scratcher, a poem written specifically for the person and a heart pillow. The bag might also include a stuffed animal, slipper socks, healing oils and other gifts.

The back scratcher is an item that has unexpected benefits for women undergoing breast cancer treatment and a tool some people wouldn’t think about during treatment. That idea of the unexpected parts of treatment carries over to the expo, as Ellery said some of the vendors scheduled to attend include air-conditioning companies, wig companies and a company that makes garments with drain tubs for women who have undergone a mastectomy.

“There are a lot of things that come up that you don’t think about,” she said.

My Hope Bag volunteer Michelle Konst underwent that herself during the start of her breast cancer treatment, which began with her diagnosis in June 2013. She attended the expo in 2013 and said one item of need she hadn’t considered going into treatment was a pair of comfortable walking shoes to help her exercise during her treatment.

What Konst, who still receives checkups every three months but has concluded her cancer treatment, remembers most about the 2013 expo is an atmosphere she said was centered on support.

“What really hit me was the positive feeling that was in the air, that it wasn’t all doom and gloom,” she said.

The timing was important given she had just undergone a double mastectomy and, despite the support of friends and family, still felt alone in her treatment. It’s difficult, she said, for someone to understand the complexities of breast cancer if he or she hasn’t gone through it.

Having a system of understanding is part of the expo experience as well, as Ellery said women undergoing treatment can sit down with a survivor to chat and chill and tell their stories to one another.

“I’ve noticed it’s a huge comfort for a woman to have someone to talk to who’s been through this,” Ellery said.

The Breast Cancer Resource Expo is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Tempe Mission Palms, located at 60 E. Fifth St. The event is free to attend and includes complimentary valet parking, and food and drink available for purchase.

Visit MyHopeBag.com for additional information about the event.

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