It’s time for a positive headline about women in the workplace.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to recognize the disease that affects 1 in 8 women – and a friend, family member, or colleagues of many – Penn Community Bank’s Women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) shifted this month’s meeting topic from professional advocacy to personal health advocacy.
The late September meeting was extra special – the Women’s ERG was joined by its first guest speaker, Lorelei Colbert. In a heartfelt presentation and productive workshop, the triple negative breast cancer survivor and award-winning advocate shed light on breast cancer awareness and the importance of advocating for yourself in both your personal life and professional career.
At just 28 years old, Lorelei received the diagnosis that would change her life forever. If it wasn’t for a simple, routine check-up, the outcome could have been very different had the cancer gone undetected and progressed. While her doctors prescribed an aggressive care plan, Lorelei was tasked with what would be the toughest part of the battle: maintaining a positive mindset despite a “triple negative” diagnosis.
Now 31 years old, Lorelei has experienced life’s challenges more than most. With that, though, comes a great gift: the ability to be a pillar of advocacy, support, and guidance for women that are in the same position as herself just 3 years ago. While in most cases breast cancer isn’t necessarily avoidable, it can be caught and managed through early detection and preventative care.
Many women understand the importance of advocating for yourself when it comes to their job, but sometimes need the reminder to advocate for their health. Just as you would with your supervisor at work, if you have a concern or something that needs immediate attention, bring it to your doctor’s attention immediately. When it comes to your body, no one is looking out for you more than you can for yourself.
Whatever it is you’re going through, from a bad day to triple negative breast cancer, the best cure is to spread kindness and keep a positive mindset despite the terrible thing you may be going through. In fact, Lorelei managed to flip the narrative on her chemotherapy treatment through her Chemo to Kindness initiative. For each week of her 16-week long treatment, she challenged her community to do an act of kindness.
Women’s ERG leader Natalie Taptykoff says, “We founded this group with the mindset of providing women in our organization with a space they can find not only find mentorship and opportunity, but support and guidance. Physical health and preventative care aren’t stressed enough in the workplace and there’s so much to learn just from hearing about women’s experiences.”
Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. For working women with busy schedules, it’s crucial to communicate the risks in manner they’ll listen closely – and sometimes, it’s during the work day.
The following are recommended guidelines all women should follow in order to decrease your risk of breast cancer:
- Get regular breast cancer screenings
- Practice breast self-exams
- Make healthy lifestyle choices
- Spread the word
Breast cancer can be a tough topic to talk about, but it’s important to know the signs, causes, and what to look for regularly. For resources and information on breast cancer awareness, please visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org.