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Elyria woman using breast cancer survival story to bring change, awareness

Posted: 8:42 PM, Oct 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-20 23:22:23-04
Renee Harrison

WESTLAKE, Ohio — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and one local survivor is bringing awareness while also supporting fellow survivors as they learn to live life after cancer.

Elyria native Renee Harrison was 23-years-old when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in 2016. Just about to begin her senior year at Ohio State University, Harrison had a new challenge ahead of her—beating cancer.

While receiving treatment at the Cleveland Clinic and working part-time, Harrison underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, five weeks of radiation, a double mastectomy and six reconstructive surgeries, all while continuing her studies.

Too old to be a part of “Make-A-Wish” but too young to have built the resources many older adults have when diagnosed with cancer, Harrison realized how little resources there are for survivors in her age group—something she’s fighting to change.

Just this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a call for change and an increase in the availability of supportive services you young breast cancer survivors.

The CDC announced three strategies to increase the availability of supportive services for young breast cancer survivors (YBCS), young women with metastatic breast cancer (mBC), and their caregivers and families:

  • The establishment of a network of survivors and caregivers to facilitate policy, system, and environmental change interventions that increase access to lifestyle programs, clinical preventive services, and cancer care among survivors;
  • Development and implementation of innovative technological educational opportunities for health care providers on topics relevant to the delivery of appropriate treatment and care of YBCS and mBC
  • Utilization of patient navigation and community health worker program strategies to reach underserved populations to enhance their access to and utilization of YBCS services and programs.

While these programs begin to address the issues Harrison fights for, she is doing her part to bring awareness and action.

“We need to do more than just be aware. We need research, we need to support survivors, we need to support people that probably aren’t going to survive. There needs to be more,” Harrison said.

Now 26-years-old, Harrison is working on projects that will bring more awareness to the adolescent and young adult cancer community and spreading the word that a cancer diagnosis can happen to anyone, at any age.

Harrison joined a 45-minute cycling class at CycleBar Crocker Park in her honor to support breast cancer awareness on Sunday.

To learn more about breast cancer and breast cancer awareness, click here.