The Breast Cancer Ambassadors

July 15, 2020

Conversation in the hospital room ping-pongs easily from one topic to another: Paddle boat races for breast cancer survivors. Managing post-mastectomy pain. Choosing a new breast size.

Nothing is off limits, as Judy Sackheim, one of three Breast Cancer Ambassadors at Suburban Hospital, talks with Roberta Burkes, a mother of three in her early 40s. Burkes is alert and sitting up in bed as she recovers from a double mastectomy the day before.

The Breast Cancer Ambassador program, launched in 2015 by Suburban’s breast cancer nurse navigator Jamie Borns, brings volunteers Sackheim, Ann Everett and Jacqueline Beale to the bedsides of patients who have had mastectomies. (The program is currently on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.)

“I know a lot about what you’re going through,” Sackheim tells Burkes. Sackheim also underwent a double mastectomy, in 2015. “You now belong to a big group of survivors, a group of very positive and very energetic women,” Sackheim says. “And that includes me.”

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