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Cancer Survivors, Karen Shayne and Judy Pearson and the Women Survivors Alliance

June 27, 2014

Karen Shayne and Judy Pearson who were in the fight for their life suffering from cancer & survived joins eHealth Radio and the Cancer Prevention and Information Channels. They both later launched a movement where women everywhere could feel connected thus launching Women Survivors Alliance.

Listen to interview with host Eric Michaels and guests Karen Shayne and Judy Pearson discuss the following:

  • How did both of you ladies come together to create the Women Survivors Alliance?
  • You mention that no one prepares you for cancer survivorship, what do you mean?  What are some specific things that changed in your life?
  • What are the 5 keys to survivorship, in your mind?
  • What do women survivors gain from the convention that is unique from any other convention?
  • On your Web site you reference –My 2nd Act – what does that mean?
  • What is the My 2nd Act Stories from the Stage all about?
  • What is the greatest challenge that you both are overcoming currently that you can share, along with tips on how you are handling them…that will impact our listeners?
  • Where can you go to learn more or sign up for the convention?

Duration: 16:22

Karen Shayne, WSA Co-Founder and Cancer Survivor

Karen Shayne has been on “both sides of the desk” when it comes to cancer treatment. Not only does she have 20 years of experience as a healthcare administrator, but she has beaten cancer twice on her own. It was these extensive experiences with the treatment process that showed her how insufficient the resources for cancer survivors are, and inspired her to form the Women Survivors Alliance (WSA).

As Karen wrapped up her battle with cancer, she expected that everything would go back to the way it was before she'd been diagnosed. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case—soon after her treatments stopped, she began struggling with other issues. Rejoining “normal” society was difficult and depression set in. It wasn't until she became involved with Relay for Life that she realized her situation wasn't unusual—that it was, in fact, “normal” for survivors to face complicated physical and emotional challenges with very little in the way of support.

Karen's first efforts to help cancer survivors culminated in a nonprofit named “Billy's Wish,” an organization dedicated to helping children fight cancer through educational DVDs, CDs, and coloring books. These free materials explain what cancer is, and what children can expect from their treatment, all in an age-appropriate and encouraging manner. While she's still involved with Billy's Wish, Karen knew that she could contribute in an even bigger way to helping cancer survivors across the country.

After five years of research and planning, in 2012 Karen launched the National Women's Survivors Convention (NWSC), the nation's most important annual event for women cancer survivors. Participants from 49 states and 5 countries attended the inaugural convention, studying survivor's issues from a broad range of experts and teachers. When it became obvious that there was demand for a year-round presence, she helped start The Plum, a digital magazine for survivors all around the world.

In addition to her roles with the WSA and the NWSC, Karen served as Tennessee State Lead Ambassador for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and is currently as the Survivorship Committee Chairperson for the Tennessee Cancer Coalition. She lives in Nashville with her little dog Marley and in her limited spare time, she is a wannabe pro-style baker and loves to kick back and enjoy the spirit of her musical roots in Nashville.

Judy Pearson, WSA Co-Founder and Cancer Survivor

Originally from Michigan, Judy Pearson is an international speaker and award-winning writer with three published books. Her first two books, Belly of the Beast: a POW’s Inspiring True Story of Faith, Courage and Survival, and Wolves at the Door: the True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy, are World War II biographies about ordinary people exhibiting extraordinary courage.

Judy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. It wasn’t the diagnosis or treatment that challenged her lifelong positive attitude. Rather, it was the laundry list of survivor ship issues that rocked her. This experience inspired her to write her third book, It's Just Hair: 20 Essential Life Lessons. The book’s lessons are appropriate for any life challenge and was a 2012 International Book Award finalist. Her continued search for a new “normal” in survivorship was what led her to Karen Shayne. And the Women Survivors Alliance (WSA) was born.

It was an excellent fit. Judy had been dedicated to building communities and helping women even before she was diagnosed with cancer. In 2005, she founded an organization called “Courage Concepts,” dedicated to cultivating courage in women and girls. Already an experienced keynote speaker and workshop leader, Judy brought the message of the fledgling WSA into brilliant, sparkling focus.

Judy now spends her time running the WSA and the National Women's Survivors Convention with co-founder Karen Shayne. She also continues to write, advocate for women survivors, and inspire women world-wide with her message of courage and determination. She splits her time between Chicago and at a lake house in Michigan with her husband David. Of course, she lives life to the fullest every day with very little spare time. But high on her list are trips to the gym, long power walks, a great book and a relaxing cocktail watching the sunset.

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