A True Bond, An Ocean Apart - After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

A True Bond, An Ocean Apart

— Abby Padilla, ABCD Marketing & Communications Specialist

February 21, 2023

After she was diagnosed in 2020 with stage IV breast cancer, Anna La Fontaine did what many do: She went online and Googled. Born and raised in Australia, she never could have imagined she would find a cherished friend living almost 10,000 miles away in the U.S. (or as they would say in Australia, over 15,000 km).

While the medical advancements in Australia are excellent, Anna couldn’t help but feel there was a lack of emotional support during her cancer journey. Anna has a very loving and supportive family, but “with your family sometimes there is too much emotion. I would tend to not talk about it, I would bottle it,” she explains. Feeling the weight of her fears and needing to connect, Anna searched for someone to help her understand her recent diagnosis. ABCD came up in that search. As Anna puts it, “I filled out a form, got a response, and June popped up!”

Anna was quickly matched with her Mentor, June Winters. Like Anna, June was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2020. Although they live far apart, the two soon found they had so much to share with one another beyond a diagnosis.

Anna and June have been in contact since June 2022, exchanging many emails and even photographs of one another. Before 2023, they had never met face-to-face or even had a real-time conversation. In mid-January, the two were able to connect for a video call using Zoom. There is a 17-hour time difference between Australia and Wisconsin, but June and Anna were determined to make it work. They connected on a Friday evening in Wisconsin, which was a Saturday morning in Australia. The opportunity allowed Mentor and Participant to interact in new ways and build on their already strong friendship.

What has this match meant to Anna and June? Both women expressed how incredible it has been to find such a deep connection in a short time, despite mostly corresponding only via e-mail. They describe themselves as kindred spirits who feel as though they have known one another for years. For Anna, it means a great deal to have someone to confide in, a person who has walked in her shoes and understands the ups and downs. While both women are at times going through different experiences, they are going through them together. Anna and June understand one another’s fears, like waiting in an x-ray room for a scan and the anxious days or weeks following, waiting for results.

But their connection goes beyond cancer; they share what is going on in their lives and give each other a glimpse into different cultures. Over Zoom, Anna was amazed to see snow outside June’s window, stating she had only seen it once in her life.

Across the miles, both women are grateful to have found one another. Anna describes waking up and seeing an e-mail from June. “It gives me this great amount of joy. I find myself quickly responding back out of excitement.” June explains what this connection means to her. “This relationship just warms my heart! When I think of Australia, I think of Anna and that is a beautiful feeling.”

ABCD is thankful to be able to help people find understanding, support, and connection – no matter when or where they may be in their journeys.

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