Posted by on April 17, 2012 - 3:31pm

Edie Falco, 9 year survivor

An overwhelming number of breast cancer patients and survivors say that talking to other survivors is key to dealing with the disease.  The findings, the result of a new national poll of breast cancer patients and survivors, inspired Edie Falco, the award-winning actress of the hit series Nurse Jackie and 9-year cancer survivor to join forces with Y-ME, a national breast cancer organization focused on the needs of survivors and patients.

“I didn’t know that it mattered so much to speak with someone who had been through it.  I was like a deer in the headlights,” said Ms. Falco.  “I kept my diagnosis private but could have used an anonymous friend who’d been there to talk about the stuff you are left to deal with because the doctors don’t talk about it.  ‘Am I going to lose my hair?  When will it happen?  Were you scared?  Does your family know?’  I’m helping Y-ME because its mission is near to my heart.”

The poll, conducted by Whitman Insight Strategies for Y-ME, found that 84% of breast cancer patients and survivors say talking to another survivor is one of the most important ways of dealing with the disease, and 68% wish that they could have been connected to other survivors.  A whopping 95% said it was important to have a 24-hour hotline for fellow survivors yet only 14 % were aware that such an organization exists today.

The CEO of Y-ME and cancer survivor, Cindy Geoghegan, says she hopes these findings will shift the focus of the breast cancer movement to patient-focused support and advocacy.   Y-ME runs a 24/7 helpline that is answered by trained peer breast cancer survivors.  They can be reached at  800-221-2141 or visit their website. (

Posted by on November 30, 2011 - 2:08pm

As the City of Chicago and the nation mourns the death of former first lady of Chicago, Maggie Daley, I reflect on a lesser known aspect of  this remarkable woman.  Yes, she is well known for her strong support of the city's school children and the importance of bringing the Arts into their lives.   She was also a supporter of breast cancer causes even before she faced her own diagnosis and she participated in many of the events sponsored by the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, founded and based in Chicago.

But not everyone knows that in 1993, she spearheaded the development of a Task Force on Women's Health that resulted in the June 1994 release of an "Urban Women's Health Agenda" in partnership with the Chicago Department of Health.  I was privileged to be a member of this Task Force along with an amazing diverse group of women who advocated for better health for ALL women in Chicago.  Today, I looked through a copy of that report and realized how visionary it was.  The report's themes are still important and include:

  • Improving women's health means improving girls' self esteem
  • Health policy must consider community based institutions and families
  • Health care must integrate at the systemic and community level
  • More women should be encouraged and supported to enter health careers
  • The role of violence as a health determinant must be addressed
  • Research studies must include more women and look for sex differences
  • Primary care is critical to promoting healthy behaviors.

The comprehensive approach to improved healthcare for all that is found in this report is worth visiting as we struggle with the current health care debate.   Maggie was always about people and she recognized how diverse we are as a city and a nation.     Let's remember this as we continue to seek a better health care system.