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Buddy Check 10: Connect to Conquer working to make breast cancer surgery easier and to comfort patients

Breast Connect and Courage to Conquer Cancer created an initiative called "Connect to Conquer," giving care packages and support to breast cancer patients in need.

"Connect to Conquer." Those three words are bringing together two East Tennessee nonprofits with one goal: helping breast cancer patients.

Breast Connect and Courage to Conquer Cancer are joining together to aid breast cancer patients in East Tennessee, by easing the financial strain and pain from recovering after breast surgery. The initiative combines the two group names: Connect to Conquer.

"It just makes sense," Kristi Roberson-James, president of Courage to Conquer Cancer, said. "Breast Connect does things for many women in the community, and so we felt like if we partnered together we would be able to reach and give patients access to mastectomy kits."

Breast Connect is an advocacy group, both on Facebook and through breastconnect.org, connecting patients and survivors through an online community.

RELATED: Breast Connect provides understanding community for women fighting cancer

"So, if you are newly diagnosed with breast cancer, you can come into our group and meet a lot of women who have been going through breast cancer who can help you go through the process," Nina Reineri, president of Breast Connect, said.

Courage to Conquer Cancer gives essential items to women going through breast surgery so they can heal more comfortably, through care packages called "mastectomy kits."

The kits contain items like post-surgery shirts called Recovery Tees.

"It has four internal drain pockets to help them with post-surgical drain management," Roberson-James said. "Also, they can wear it to radiation. It has plastic snaps and then they can wear it to chemo if they like because it has pretty easy access to their port if they require treatment."

Inside the kits are also an underarm pillow, educational supplies and a mask. Random Acts of Flowers also delivers free flowers to the hospital for those breast cancer patients.

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"We have the breast cancer women who need them," Reineri said about the kits. "They come to us, and [Kristi has] a mastectomy kit that women adore. It's a huge need for women. It makes their life a lot easier when they're going through surgery."

The partnership's goal is to give every woman in the 16-county area who needs a kit with one completely for free. They ask for people to only request one kit per person.

They also said they need donations to continue offering mastectomy kits for free. People can request a mastectomy kit and donate to the cause at connect2conquer.org.

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