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The “Voices of Hope” Project

Everyone handles a cancer diagnosis differently. Everyone copes in their own unique way.

When ready, some people cope by volunteering their time at clinics or hospitals, some write poetry, some draw or paint, some devote their careers to counseling others or change careers altogether, some become advocates traveling around the country doing advocating stuff. Some become fitness/nutrition consultants, some (like me) write blogs, some set up websites and some write books.

And of course, some – perhaps most, keep more to themselves, preferring to travel the cancer road more quietly and privately.

There is no right way to do cancer and this is at is should be.

After a cancer diagnosis many of us do feel a genuine desire to reach out to others, to do something, to help someone else navigate, to try to make some sense out of this maze known as cancer.

Today I’d like to spotlight the work of one friend of mine who has been involved with a remarkable project. This friend is Lisa Valentine. Some of you might remember Lisa’s amazing guest post, The Sum of All My Parts, about opting out of reconstruction. If you missed it, do check it out here.

Like many of us, Lisa joined a support group after her cancer diagnosis. She and a few others in her support group decided to take this support thing to a whole new level. They decided to create not one, but two DVDs to help others also diagnosed. Funding was provided through grants and gifts.

They call their project Voices of Hope. The goal of the project is to get both DVDs FREE into the hands of newly diagnosed patients and their families.

The first DVD called, “Voices of Hope”, is divided into two parts. Part one is further divided into seven topics: The Diagnosis, The Challenge, Taking the Steps, Emotions, Telling the Family, Husbands and Partners and finally, Hope and Comfort. In each section a diverse group of women openly shares about the topic.

These remarkable women candidly tell about personal challenges they’ve faced, side effects experienced, how their relationships have been impacted, what telling the children was like, how friendships changed and how their lives are now different, but yet also still the same.

They gently encourage the viewer to find her own way, become her own best self-advocate, never settle, take things one step at a time and just find what works best for her. Gentle encouragement comes from these amazing women who understand and who have been in the viewer’s shoes.

Part two of the first video is called, “Post-surgery Images”. Watching this segment moved me to tears as several participants poignantly showed their surgery scars and very differing results. It was very moving.

All this was done in under 30 minutes, which is great because when you’re first diagnosed, one’s attention span might be limited and time is of the essence.

The second DVD is called, “Voices of Hope:  Family and Friends”. This DVD also runs just under 30 minutes or so. Some of the same women interviewed in the first DVD appear once again, but this time together with a member or two of their families. There are also some new faces, including two male breast cancer survivors who share as well.

Watching this DVD really made me think about how deeply family members are also affected by a loved one’s cancer diagnosis. Of course, I already knew this, but hearing their thoughts and fears put into words was very powerful.

In particular I appreciated Part 2 – “Mental or Physical?”, because it tackled the topic of sexuality and intimacy, one which is often left out of such discussions. The over use of war metaphors was also addressed. This is a pet peeve of mine, so it was nice to hear others agree with me.

I appreciate the efforts of these brave survivors and their families and I know many of you will too. You can actually see and feel their genuine-ness and compassion coming through via the videos.

And that’s an incredibly beautiful and wonderful gift to offer the newly (and not-so-newly) diagnosed and their families.

I thank each one of them for caring so much and for reaching out to others by sharing their intimate and moving stories of hope with remarkable courage and grace. I am honored to share about this project with you, my readers.

If you’d like to buy one or both of these DVDs for yourself, purchase them for a support (or any) group you’re involved with or just learn more about the “Voices of Hope” project, please visit their website and view the DVD trailers here.

Because as always, sharing helps us all.

What helpful information (if any) did you receive upon diagnosis?

Does any support group you’ve attended offer a DVD as a resource?

Click on the image to learn more about “Voices of Hope”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 thoughts on “The “Voices of Hope” Project

    1. Kathi, It really is. I was very moved when I watched the dvds. There’s nothing like getting advice and encouragement from someone who’s been there.

  1. Thanks for this wonderful post Nancy! It has been an honor, as well as a humbling and healing experience, to be part of this project. Your words do it justice. The producers, videographers, and editors did amazing work and captured the gamut of emotions this disease creates.I thank them as well.
    We hope to continue our mission and get the DVDs in the hands of those who need them. Thanks for your help in our efforts!

    1. Lisa, My pleasure. I think this project is wonderful. I’m sure it’s helped many and will continue to do so. Thank YOU and thank you to all involved with it as well.

  2. Hi Nancy,

    Sounds simply terrific. I wish I had such a resource when I was first diagnosed, and you’re right: one’s attention span is quite short when going through the hell that is a cancer diagnosis. I’ve always agreed with your statement that there’s no right way to do cancer.

    Patients are lucky to have a resource such as the “Voices of Hope” project.

    1. Beth, I wish I had had something like this too. Maybe they should consider promoting it at cancer centers all over the country. Or maybe they are doing that already, I don’t know. I think it’s a great resource. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Great project I wished there was something like this available when I was diagnosed.
    The Canadian Cancer Society sent me a packet of books and I received a squishy ball for post surgery exercises. I also received a thing that was supposed to resemble a boob stitched with a nylon cover and stuffing inside I laughed when I saw it because in no way did it look remotely like a breast. Though I did receive a heart shaped pillow to put under my arm after surgery that was great loved it Second surgery took it to the hospital it disappeared. Joined a group which was a terrible mistake.
    I fended for myself started blogging learned so much from others Many times being a lifeline when I felt truly lost
    Resources are very important I wish them all the success!!
    Love Alli…XX

    1. Alli, You received some interesting stuff in your “goodie bag.” Sorry you lost the pillow… wonder what happened to that. Too bad you didn’t lose the fake boob instead, right? Sorry to hear about your support group experience. Sometimes they don’t “fit” do they? I’m glad you turned to blogging – another sort of resource. Thanks for sharing, Alli.

  4. Thanks Nancy for your outstanding post regarding the Voices of Hope Project. As a participant and the project director, it is most gratifying to hear that we are making a positive impact with the DVDs. Please watch for the Voices of Hope website coming soon to VoicesofHopeBC.com

    1. Diane, It’s really nice to “meet” you. Thanks so much for stopping by. Congratulations on a wonderful and very meaningful project. I wish you continued success with it. And when that website is ready, let me know and I can add the link to this post. I’d be happy to have you link back to my post, too, so people could read my “review” if that might help in any way. Thanks again.

  5. What a wonderful project! I didn’t receive any DVD’s upon diagnosis, but was encouraged to go online to find good information. Of course, one has to sift through a lot to get to reliable advice and tips, but it can be found. This sounds like a wonderful resource that would make a great gift for the newly diagnosed or those facing a cancer history for some time. xo

    1. Jan, It really is a nice resource, not only for the person newly diagnosed, but also for their loved ones as well. Thanks for stopping by, Jan.

  6. Wonderful idea… I don’t remember if it was the Alberta or Canadian Cancer Society and I’m too comfy to go look, but I was given a black cloth “portfolio” type folder with a zipper, it was full of pamphlets and resources. No squishy ball though. 🙂

    At the pre mastectomy meeting I was given the cloth fake breast and more info, the power point presentation seemed awkward and we couldn’t access it afterwards. We had a few questions about the surgery and the after effects but the meeting was pretty much taken over by an elderly woman who was only worried about wearing her bra in the hospital right after surgery. Prior to chemo we attended the chemo lecture and more pamphlets were given out. After surgery, another meeting and more pamphlets, however, it was much better managed.

    When I received my stage IV dx over the phone, I felt like I was on my own. When I saw my my oncologist a few days later they suggested a book written in part by my first oncologist, inside was mention of stage IV, the book was not about stage IV. I felt quite lost and turned to the internet.

    This is longer than I intended. During the initial diagnosis and subsequent years prior to MBC dx, I felt things needed more cohesion. The information seemed cluttered, confused and overwhelmingly impersonal. To view the stories of and from woman who have been living through breast cancer, would have been amazing. My sister and our children and I would have gotten a lot from this, I wish this project much success and hope it spawns similar works of hope around the globe.

    1. Carolyn, I’m sorry you felt so on your own. Hearing that always makes me sad. Perhaps a DVD specifically for metastatic patients would be a good idea as well. No matter what illness/challenge a person is facing, sharing and learning about the experiences of others helps. Thanks so much for commenting.

    2. I was lucky, I had my sister and the kids here, before and after. But, no one can truly understand unless you are living it of course. I agree with you, and I’ve been thinking about it. Even just a better way of delivering “any” information after a metastatic dx would be a great thing. A package of options and stories, perhaps even links to the amazing blogs I found myself going to time and again for wisdom, experience… and now for a sense of connection. 🙂 All those paper packages of info for the first three stages, then nothing for the last, seemed to add a little more terminal to the terminal. If only I weren’t so bloody tired! 🙂 Thanks again Nancy.

      1. Carolyn, Yes, a “care package” of sorts for those diagnosed with mets would be helpful and undoubtedly appreciated because so many comment about how completely alone they feel after such a diagnosis. And as you said, there’s not much out there support-wise for stage IV. Thanks for your additional thoughts.

  7. What a beautiful thing they did making a DVD for others diagnosed. It is such a wonderful gift for them to share this with others. I also think joining a face to face support group when diagnosed is also so helpful if it is available where you live. Amazing that they were able to keep both parts under 30 minutes and manage to talk about surgeries, other family members and sexuality. They really hit topics that can help others.

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