If you met Cheryl Meszaras and Leslie Apking, you’d think they have been friends for ages.
“When we met it was instant connection,” said Cheryl. “Yes, it was great!” adds Leslie when asked about their friendship.
Surprisingly, the two have barely known each other a year and a half. They met during one of the toughest times of their lives. Both were battling cancer.
“She was just a few months ahead of me,” said Cheryl, “And you hadn’t had your double mastectomy so I knew what to tell her to expect,” finished Leslie.
The friendship was what they both needed.
“Research shows when you have a support system it increases the chances of survival,” said Leslie.
It all happened through BreastConnect, a website dedicated to providing those impacted by breast cancer with a one-stop shop for resources.
On the website, they say their goal is for the site to answer questions, provide information, and help patients create the best course of action as they navigate their breast cancer journey.
"It’s helpful to have someone who is going through it or has gone through it to give you their authentic support,” explained Leslie.
One of the programs the group offers is a Sisterhood Program, where women are matched with others in a similar situation.
“It’s a site more involved with actually helping you with the recovery, hooking you up with someone who can help you, who is paired with your personality type, common interested to help you get through the hardest time,” said Cheryl. “We have interest in plays, music.”
Through surgeries, chemo, and recovery they encouraged one another, each step of the way.
“She's so active, she was such an inspiration to me, with her mountain biking,” Leslie said of Cheryl.
Both are eager to share their experience in hopes of helping other women.
“It’s easy to get trapped in that fear-based way of thinking, but in groups like this you can celebrate and be on a path to wellness and focus on that instead of fear,” said Leslie.