Julia Stegeman

LOUISBURG — Julia Stegeman, a Reach to Recovery volunteer from Louisburg, recently was recognized with the Terese Lasser Memorial Award for her service and commitment to the Reach to Recovery program.

Reach to Recovery works through carefully selected and trained volunteers who have fully adjusted to their breast cancer treatment. All volunteers complete an initial training and participate in ongoing continuing education sessions, according to a news release.

Through face-to-face visits, by phone, or by email, Reach volunteers give support for people recently diagnosed with breast cancer, facing a possible diagnosis, considering surgery, undergoing various cancer treatments and facing recurrences of cancer, according to the release.

Stegeman was chosen from other candidates within the state of Kansas and was presented her award in October.

Sue Jirkovsky-Landers, Reach to Recovery Volunteer Coordinator for Missouri and Kansas, said Stegeman has been an integral part of the Reach to Recovery program for 18 Years.

“Julia has been very involved with many programs at the American Cancer Society,” Jirkovsky said. “She feels that she has been able to reach/educate a number of underserved women locally in the day when breast cancer was really considered an older woman’s disease.”

Stegeman said being diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age inspired her to help other women going through a similar ordeal.

“I was 39 at the time (of diagnosis) and there was no open support for breast cancer, let alone at my age,” Stegeman said. “I vowed to God that if I survived, I would strive to help any woman to not feel ALONE in her journey. I am glad to know ACS honors my work with breast cancer survivors.”

Following her own breast cancer experience in 1952, Terese Lasser began the Reach to Recovery program. In 1969, the American Cancer Society adopted the program as one of its nationwide programs. Reach to Recovery has served over 1 million women in the U.S., according to the release.

For more than 45 years, the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program has been helping people cope with their breast cancer experience — as early as the first possibility of a diagnosis and continuing for as long as breast cancer remains a personal concern to them, according to the release.

Reach to Recovery volunteers are specially trained to help people through their experience by offering a measure of comfort and an opportunity for emotional grounding and informed decision making. As breast cancer survivors, the volunteers give patients and family members an opportunity to express feelings, talk about fears and concerns, and ask questions of someone who has been there. Most importantly, Reach to Recovery volunteers offer understanding, support, and hope because they themselves have survived breast cancer and gone on to live productive lives, according to the release.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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