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Local organization works to conquer breast cancer

Women work to make the journey less complicated with care packages and emotional support.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — There's a local nonprofit that's helping people navigate their breast cancer journey. It's called Connect to Conquer. It brings together two powerhouse breast cancer nonprofits, Breast Connect and Courage to Conquer Cancer. It provides post-op medical care and a safe place for those with breast cancer to feel more supported.

Many joined the group years ago, completed their treatments and continue to help others along their journey. Breast cancer has been a part of Dr. Kristi Roberson James’ life. “It’s a personal passion project for us. Trying to give back to other women,” she said.

She worked doing research and breast health outreach for several years but when her sister-in-law was diagnosed, she began to see it in a new light. “When she scheduled her mastectomy, we discovered that there was not a great product on the market to help women heal comfortably,” Roberson-James said.

That’s when she developed the recovery kit. Inside the care package there is educational material, a shower belt, a recovery pillow and a post op shirt that’s been tested on 1,500 patients and modified for comfortable healing.

“Post-surgical supplies, floral arrangements, making sure that they connect sure that they connect with people through Breast Connect. If they want to be connected with a sister through the sisterhood program and that that person can walk with them while they’re doing treatment,” Roberson-James said.

All of this has become a part of an emotional support group that walks with women through their journey. “You have a patient, they have been diagnosed and they are trying to be strong for their family but yet they really need that support also of somebody else whose really already walked that walk and been through that and maybe has already reached survivorship status,” Roberson-James said.

In the 16 Tennessee counties Connect to Conquer serves, Roberson-James said there are about 1,000 new patients diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Stephanie Ewers was one of them. “I am a survivor. I was diagnoses in May of 2019. Breast Cancer was not on my radar,” she said.

Through Breast Connect she immersed herself in the support of other women facing similar battles. “It’s really neat when you see just women who have formed bonds over something that’s one of the worst things that’s happened to them in their lives. There’s this goodness that comes out of it,” Ewers said.

It’s a place where people in our area can be each other’s cheerleaders and share similar experiences.

“Women will find out from each other that you know, you can not be as strong as you think you have to be today,” she said.

Now Ewers is cancer free, but she continues dedicating her life to helping people conquer cancer. “The responses we get for the things, these simple things that they receive are such great support for them. They were for me. I can speak personally from that,” she said.

This nonprofit organization wants to help even more people through their breast cancer journey – find out how you can help by clicking here.