It's early evening in Norfolk, Va., where "Janice_78" lives. Across
cyberspace, the "Pink Bus" is ready to roll -- ready for breast cancer
survivors like her to hop aboard.
Riders on this virtual bus are slogging their way through scans and
surgeries, making the best of bald heads and insurance hassles. On the Pink
Bus, they get hugs, tears, maybe a few (virtual) strawberry margaritas. As they
have found, just typing a few words -- posting a lone message in the abyss --
can bring real friendship.
To be safe, Jennifer Mukai all but eliminated soy from her diet after being told she had breast cancer in May 2009.
Being of Japanese descent and also health conscious, the Seattle interior designer says she was eating a lot of soy in various forms before her diagnosis.
“I drank about three-quarters of a cup of soy milk in my coffee twice a day and ate tofu and edamame [soy beans] pretty regularly,” the 44-year-old tells WebMD. “I was also probably getting quite a bit of soy in the meat-substitute...
The Pink Bus is a joyride, you might say. It departs regularly from one of
WebMD's message boards, connecting the group of women and their loved ones who
regularly support each other on Breast Cancer: Friend to Friend. This
cyber meeting site is one of more than 150 boards devoted to health and
lifestyle issues and conditions at WebMD.com.
Medical studies reinforce the importance of support for women with breast
cancer, especially after treatment. In one study, women who had recently
completed treatment for breast cancer reported having emotional problems and
difficulty functioning in social situations. However, with social support they
showed significant improvement in their overall quality of life. The Internet
has opened a floodgate of opportunities for women seeking support, enabling
them to reach out from the comfort of their homes, no matter the time, date, or
even the weather.
Just 10 years ago, this wasn't possible -- an amazing Internet connection
among so many breast cancer survivors, all fighting the same battles, all
knowing too well what another is thinking, feeling. In the 1970s, when my own
mother faced breast cancer surgery, she knew no one who had traveled that road.
She would have loved the Pink Bus.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when these
battle-weary women find themselves in the spotlight. Raising awareness, of
course, is the goal. But for some, the pink ribbons and gimmicks are
"If you're newly diagnosed, you're scared," says Janice Haines
(a.k.a. Janice_78) . "And if you're metastatic, you've pretty much reached
the end of your rope. You want a cure, and you want it right now." Still,
no one denies that education is critical. "Breast cancer is much more out
there than it used to be. People are getting diagnosed at younger and younger