Founder's Statement

A Message from Julie Ohnemus, MD

As Founder, I welcome you to our website.  We hope it is informative and begins a dialogue on health and healing in yours and our community.  BGHP, as a grassroots organization, seeks to create an awareness in our community - supporting and challenging our social network to address breast health responsibly and holistically.  Our members are breast cancer survivors, their support people, and those interested in breast health.  We begin with a personal knowledge of the limited resources available to women fighting breast cancer, and offer support services as part of the community affected by cancer.

As women, families and friends who have experienced the upheaval of a breast cancer diagnosis, we understand the central importance of "healthy survivorship," that is, reframing one's perspective from a breast cancer victim to a breast cancer survivor / thriver.  This involves three basic steps: (1) becoming educated about the medical, emotional, practical, and social issues of one's survivorship, (2) finding and nourishing hope, and (3) acting wisely on one's knowledge and hope.

Around these three steps we continue to evolve our mission and services.  We promote healthy survivorship through education, healing support, and hope - enabling each woman to become her own best medical advocate.  It is my belief that education is empowerment.  Medical science and technology is advancing at an amazing pace.  We strive to maintain the latest information on breast cancer and breast health in our library, and will share some of the important issues & studies with you via this newsletter.  However, we also embody the importance of the full Hippocratic view of treatment as a dual process, involving both the scientific, medical aspect and the empowerment of the patient's own healing process.

A friend of mine wrote: "Curing happens at the level of the body, and it requires expertise.  Healing is what happens at the level of the whole person, and it requires collaboration with the innate movement towards wholeness which is constant and present in everyone.  Healing is not the outcome of interaction between an expert and a problem; it requires a relationship between two whole human beings who bring to a situation of suffering the full power of their combined humanity and all of its potential.  When this happens many things that cannot be cured can still heal.  The hope of healing is always present.  Even faced by an incurable disease, a person may still grow in such a way that, over time, the wound of their illness becomes a smaller and smaller part of the sum of their lives." (Rachel Naomi Remen, MD)

BGHP blends patient advocacy with the "wounded healer model," where we acknowledge and share our own woundedness & experience, in offering active listening and compassion to the woman who is newly diagnosed.  This connection removes the sense of isolation, and creates the opportunity for this woman to realize her own birthright to heal.  Thus the importance of personal stories.  Wholeness on the psychospiritual level is often found when there is meaning to what we are going through.  Without meaning there is suffering. In the end, I believe that meaning is what we bring to suffering, not what we gain from it.

In closing, I'd like to comment on our chosen newsletter name: Call of the Amazons.  The Amazons are an ancient nation of warrior women, who are said to have cut off their breast so they might draw the bow as they fought for their survival.  We have chosen it as our symbol to capture their power and decision.  We view ourselves as "warriors" - defined as women of power and strength, who out of love, caring and authenticity challenge each other toward growth and a sense of unifying support. It has been said, "the warrior is one who is in alignment with the forces of nature, traditions, and culture... and in the course of that alignment, the warrior is able to discern when it is time to fight and when it is time to let go."  So is our journey.