Nurse reaches out to breast cancer patients

October 05, 2008|By Cassandra A. Fortin | Cassandra A. Fortin,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Sandra Woodring has a soft spot for people with cancer.

For a living, she works as an oncology registered nurse, and when she's off the clock, she supports breast cancer patients.

"I just feel like I have to do something for women who have breast cancer," said Woodring, 40, of Street. "I wake up with an outlook on life on what a gift it is that I don't have cancer. Support for these women is something that's missing, and you can't put a job title on it."

Woodring, who works at Bel Air Oncology, offers support through a program she helped start about six years ago called BCAUSE, Breast Cancer and U Support and Encouragement. The program is designed for women younger than 40, Woodring said.

Statistics compiled by the National Breast Cancer Foundation show that more than half of all the women diagnosed with breast cancer are older than 65. As a result, most of the services and support groups are geared toward older women, she said.

"A special support group was necessary because the dynamics of the sexuality and the needs of women ages 30 to 40 who are diagnosed with breast cancer are different than older women," said Woodring, who earned her bachelor's degree in 1997 from Towson University.

During the monthly BCAUSE meetings, Woodring, who serves as the group's co-facilitator, helps the women prepare living wills, discusses sexual and emotional issues that the women may be facing, and serves as their medical liaison, she said.

"I love to make them smile and feel good," she said. "These women are inspirational to me."

And for the women who don't have family or friends available for support, she said she tries to be their resource.

Woodring also treats the women to a day of pampering at her home, where they do manicures and pedicures and relax, she said.

She also holds fundraisers to help cover travel expenses to send the cancer patients to national symposiums and conferences, she said.

"We want to do whatever we can to raise awareness in the community," she said. "Breast cancer can be caught early, but you have to know that anyone can get it."

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