Newsmakers: Firefly Sisterhood Helps Women Fighting Breast Cancer Connect
Since 2014, the Firefly Sisterhood has helped women fighting breast cancer connect with one another in the spirit of friendship and support.
Executive Director Amy Gallagher says that support has been even more crucial during the pandemic, when women are going to appointments and surgeries alone. They’ve had an increase of women needing mentors.
“A lot of women are going to their appointments alone, their surgeries alone. So they really just need that emotional support and somebody to talk do that’s been through it,” said Gallagher. “We’ve been able to just really focus on having our peer mentors sort of text, and call them more than they would in a normal year because they really need someone to talk to.”
The Firefly Sisterhood pairs Minnesota women who are fighting breast cancer with a volunteer peer mentor, called a guide, who has been through treatment, surgery, or reconstruction. The guides provide emotional support and insight for women who have been diagnosed.
“If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, they will call us and we’ll match them with a woman who has been through something similar,” explained Gallagher. “We have peer mentor-trained guides and we match by breast cancer type, stage, treatment plan, lifestyle, family and a ton of different factors.”
Gallagher says the match is very intentional. For example, if you are a mom going through chemotherapy with young kids, they’ll try to match you with a similar scenario.
“We’ll match you with somebody who has done the same thing and they can share their experience with that person,” said Gallagher.
There’s always a need for more ‘guides.’
“We’re always looking for people to be in our program and volunteer. We have women that are six months out from survivorship or 20-years out,” said Gallagher. “There are all different people who need help. Essentially all of our volunteers are still patients as well because they are still doing their six month checkups.”
Gallagher says the mentor relationship provides two-way support. Since 2014, more than 2,000 women have been matched and they’ve trained over 330 peer mentor guides. There are currently around 157 active guides in the pro gram
The work is rewarding, and Gallagher frequently hears success stories from women who say they wouldn’t have gotten through the experience without the support of a mentor.
To learn more, visit www.fireflysisterhood.org