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Yorktown Cancer Survivor Counsels Patients

YORKTOWN, N.Y.- After someone lends her a helping hand, Andrea Karl shows her gratitude by paying it forward.

So when Yorktown's Support Connection gave her the strength to cope with her own cancer diagnosis, she came back as one of the organization's full-time peer counselors to help others who are going through the same medical issues she did.

"The work done [by Support Connection] is so valuable when you're lost and confused and you think you're the only person going through [the struggle,]" she said.

Karl can recall all too clearly the fears that came along with starting medical treatments nearly a decade ago. She remembers because she had the same questions her clients now do—would she lose her hair? How would she balance her illness with motherhood?

Her peer counselor at Support Connection, who was also a cancer survivor, calmed her nerves by assuring her any hair lost during chemotherapy would grow back. So before her hospital visit, Karl stopped by the organization's headquarters to see. Karl is now the person on the other end of that phone call from caregivers or patients looking for emotional support.

She says Support Connection is somewhere women can let their guard down and show vulnerability.

"We aren't going anywhere. You can be nervous—we just get [what you're going through] and we understand," she added of her organization.

Karl then directs clients toward the many programs Support Connection has to offer. She personally leads discussions in the Young Women's Breast Cancer Support Group, and handles one-on-one meetings with clients.

"The women and families who find the courage to call here, our volunteers, the staff, our community partners –they're the heroes," she added. Those hoping to get involved should take part in the organization's 17th Annual Support-A-Walk on October 2.

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