LONG ISLAND, NY – When lives are touched by the hand of tragedy, many often turn to help others similarly afflicted; with their unique understanding of the situation, such giving souls often make for the most qualified to ease the hardships of others.
Such is Elaine Polan, a 23-year Mineola resident, has faced the terrible loss of two family members to breast cancer. However, she has taken this tragic occurrence and spun it into something positive; she has just completed an intensive 20-hour training program enabling her to become a volunteer with the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program, a cause that is very near and dear to her heart, she said.
I had two sisters who had died from breast cancer…we have a family history of breast cancer,” she said. “I had just retired recently – I was a nursing educator for over 20 years – and felt that this was a way to give back to individuals in a way that was important to me.”
The program, based out of Garden City’s Adelphi University, welcomes new volunteers into their ranks on a regular basis; Polan responded to an ad she had seen in the paper, and decided that this was a cause that she wanted to get involved with.
“They explained how to man the hotline, answer questions, and offer resources,” she said. “We’re there for the women not to feel alone…we haven’t finalized my duties yet, but I hope to be able to work on other programs they offer, such as community outreach, and offer my services wherever they will be the most helpful.”
Kathi Kassover, coordinator of the volunteer and hotline program for the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program, said that her group has been helping to support and empower women diagnosed with breast cancer for over 33 years and running.
We’re one of the first groups to deal with breast cancer, back when nobody was even mentioning breast cancer,” she said. “We openly dealt with it and advocated it in a legislative manner as well offering support, and we’ve continued that until this very day…this is the oldest group of its kind.”
Kassover pointed out that the organization offers services and support to both women and men afflicted with breast cancer.
“The program has two components…one is a hotline that is run by about 100 volunteers, and the majority of them are breast cancer survivors themselves. They talk to the callers and help to walk them through what’s going on. People call up feeling vulnerable and confused and by the end of the call they feel supported and not alone,” she said. “We also go out into the community and we educate people about breast cancer all of the time. We also have a variety of support groups based on the needs of the community.”
For Polan, getting involved with such an important group has inspired her; she said she can’t wait to get to work helping women and men through the hard times that she knows all too well.
“The great feeling that I have, just being in the support group with women who have survived breast cancer,” she said. “I’m very impressed by how brave they are, having gone through something as difficult as having breast cancer, and to be able to offer others the help they need to get though it as well is nothing short of phenomenal, and I’m so honored to be involved.”
If you wish to volunteer with the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program, or just learn more about the organization, please visit: www.adelphi.edu/nysbreastcancer.
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