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So No One Has to Face Breast Cancer Alone

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Linda Kaufmann always knew that when she retired she would spend her time helping other people. What she didn’t know is that “other people” would be those facing cancer, and she wouldn’t be waiting until retirement.

In 1991, Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. A year later, she developed lymphedema.

“There was very little treatment for lymphedema back then,” said Linda. She turned to the American Cancer Society for information, and that’s when she decided to become a Society volunteer.

“I didn’t want other women to have the same issues that I did,” she said. So in 1992, years away from retirement, she became an American Cancer Society Reach To Recovery® volunteer, a program that empowers trained breast cancer survivors to provide guidance and support to people newly diagnosed with the disease.

After 13 years of volunteering, Linda retired. A year later, she moved south, and what she found in her new city was shocking.

The Reach To Recovery® program was lacking volunteers in her new community. This simply would not do.

“Too many people in the area were not getting the individual help that they needed. As we say, ‘no one should have to face breast cancer alone,’” she said.

With the help of 2 to 3 former volunteers, Linda got the program up and running again. Since there were no volunteers to start with, she became the program’s coordinator.

While serving as her area’s coordinator, Linda also became a Reach To Recovery® trainer, something she really loves.

“I know the program volunteers quite well because I trained most of them. It’s important because we can’t do this without our wonderful volunteers,” she said.

Her local Reach To Recovery® program now has 12 active volunteers that help in her county and surrounding counties. Linda wears three hats for the program as a visitor, coordinator, and trainer.

“My heart is with making sure patients get what they need. I’m so thankful the program is back here,” she said.

She also speaks in her community about the American Cancer Society and the Reach To Recovery® program.

“A lot of people in the area don’t realize that the program exists,” said Linda. She visits local hospitals and doctor’s offices, providing them with information.

In 2010, she received the Terese Lasser Award. Linda was in disbelief because Terese, who started the Reach To Recovery® program, was an idol of hers. She thinks it’s incredible what Terese went through to get the program going.

“That meant more to me than any other award I’ve ever received because it was a volunteer award,” said Linda. “It is a gift to volunteer for the American Cancer Society.”

Four years ago, Linda was also diagnosed with uterine cancer. After calling the American Cancer Society, she was quickly sent information on her diagnosis, so that by the time she got to her surgeon, she knew exactly what he was going to say, which was very helpful and greatly appreciated by her.

Linda is a 23-year breast cancer survivor, a 4-year uterine cancer survivor, and a selfless leader in the fight against cancer.

“Life is most worthwhile when you are doing something for someone else. I know I’m making a difference and that keeps me going,” said Linda.