JOPLIN, MO – Many breast cancer patients will tell you about the hope, relief, and sense of community they felt once they found other breast cancer survivors.

In tonight’s buddy check 16: The effect of support.

“We need each other.” Says Brandy Jackson, Breast Cancer Survivor.

When Jackson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, she quickly realized the importance of a strong support system.

“I feel like it has helped me adjust better to the changes that the cancer brings. It’s also helped me to have a better outlook on life.” Says Jackson.

“It makes them like they’re not alone in the process. It makes them feel like what they’re feeling is not wrong.” Says Marcella Sowell, Breast Cancer Patient Navigator.

Jackson’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer around the same time 5 years ago, and the flood of support, as well as meeting women in local support groups, helped ease the tough times.

“Some of the most amazing, best women in my life. It’s just some of the most amazing women I’ve ever met are survivors. And my mother is one of them.” Says Jackson.

It makes her emotional, because she’s passionate about helping other women going through the same thing.

After beating cancer the first time, Jackson went back to school and became a therapist, now working at Freeman Health’s Hope Spring Facility.

“When I started going to school, and I wrote a paper, and doing research and stuff on it, I’m like, ‘Hey, there is evidence behind supporting each other.'” Says Jackson.

“I find it extremely important for a lady to know that they’re not the first one that they’re going through this. The other ladies that have gone through a similar situation, that they could reach out to these ladies.” Says Sowell.

It’s been tough through the pandemic, though.

Support groups haven’t been meeting in-person very much.

“We’re unable to meet, so we have to get a little more creative.” Says Jackson.

“Our ladies aren’t really showing up for those. It’s a lot more online stuff or phone calls. I get more phone calls then anything.” Says Sowell.

Jackson was re-diagnosed with cancer in 2020, but she’s hopeful, using what she learned back then to lean on that support system.

“It’s just something about having somebody who ‘gets it’ that’s very meaningful.” Says Jackson.

But the emotion swings in the other way, too.

“Not only through the bad times, but we have good times, too. We make good memories and we laugh.” Says Jackson.