- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Six months into Deborah Tobin’s battle with breast cancer, she finally got to meet someone not involved in her medical treatment but who has proven vital to her recovery.

It’s Lynn Malayter, a breast-cancer survivor now helping other women cope with their diagnoses.

Malayter is one of 20 volunteers at the University of Wisconsin Health Breast Center’s Patient Survivor Advocate Program that connects those at the front end of treatment with those who have been through it. WISC-TV documented the special bond Thursday between those in the grant-funded program (https://bit.ly/1zmiskV ).

The advocates aren’t medical professionals, but the university says they receive training from breast cancer specialists.

The goal is to help women figure out strategies for managing their diagnoses and informing their family and friends, as well as to comfort them at the scary outset.

Tobin got her diagnosis in June and was immediately frightened by what she didn’t know about the disease or how to approach it. She’s been through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

“The thing that really, really helped me the most is having the ability to talk to someone who has been through this experience before,” Tobin said. “No one can give you that reassurance like another person who’s been through it.”

Malayter, herself diagnosed two days after Christmas two years ago, said even for people with a strong support network there is extra value to hearing from someone who has been through it. Malayter is now a survivor.

When Malayter and Tobin were paired up, their first conversation lasted hours. It went from calls and texts, to encouraging emails, to finally meeting face-to-face for the first time this holiday season.

“We have never lacked for anything to talk about, let’s put it that way,” Malayter said.

“When I got the diagnosis and I was talking to people, it was really odd because I said to them, ‘I don’t know why this has happened, but mark my words, something good will come from it,’” Malayter said. “And it did!”

Tobin said she can see herself as a volunteer advocate for the program once she’s in the clear.

“That’s really a goal of mine,” Tobin said.

___

Information from: WISC-TV, https://www.channel3000.com

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