RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and there is a network of survivors and supporters right here in RVA helping make that journey a little bit smoother.
“You have cancer,” are the three words Melissa Weaver never thought she’d hear, especially at just 37 years old.
“I had chemo, and then I had radiation following that, so, all in all, it was a yearlong process,” Weaver said.
It was a process that included a double mastectomy.
“It was an aggressive move on my part, but it was the right move because I had two young children,” she said.
Seeking a community of survivors, Melissa came across “Beyond Boobs,” a Williamsburg-founded support network and attended a retreat.
“I drove down there so sick, all by myself, and I just cried … not in a negative way, but because I felt I was finally with people who really understood,” Weaver said.
And she stuck with it, attending meetings and activities right here in Central Virginia.
“Support group gatherings would be where women meet in each other’s homes instead of a hospital. That seems to be a lot more comfortable. They can laugh and talk, and a lot of times they do activities at these gatherings,” explains Vicki Vawter, Events & Community Relations Manager for “Beyond Boobs.”
The group has expanded to four states.
“They tell us it’s crucial, and they tell us they need it,” says Vawter.
8News spoke with Doctor Danny Shaban who said that support can bring physical, not just emotional healing to women.
“I think that positive reinforcement helps those patients recover and also finds a support network for these patients where they can look at other women who have gone through this and done well, and I think that helps a lot,” Dr. Shaban, the Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Dominion Women’s Health, said.
He reminds women to do what we’ve all been told. Get your yearly mammogram and stay healthy.
“Exercise is a really important one. Diet. Non- smokers have a little bit less risk factor than smokers do,” he said.
Melissa is now cancer-free but still helps facilitate meetings for “Beyond Boobs.”
“What I learned was that you have to re-prioritize your life. Things you think matter every day … maybe they really don’t,” she said.
For more information on Beyond Boobs and how you can join a support group, check their website here.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.