As a nurse specializing in public health who has devoted her career to improving the quality and reach of health care in Minnesota, Barb Post brings invaluable expertise and passion to the board of Firefly Sisterhood. Barb is excited to help the organization grow, and her enthusiasm and commitment are contagious: “I want the resources the Firefly Sisterhood offers to be available to everyone,” she describes.
As a part of this mission, she is especially interested in Firefly Sisterhood’s commitment to serving economically and culturally diverse populations. Barb is eager to help the board explore new ways to reach out to a broad spectrum of communities, ensuring that all women feel welcomed and find the support they need. Having spent 20 years as a Senior Quality Improvement Specialist with Metropolitan Health Plan, where she designed and implemented projects to improve patient outreach and care for vulnerable populations, Barb brings a wealth of excellent ideas and experience to this task.
It’s not just her professional background that makes Barb a valuable resource as a Firefly Sisterhood board member, but also her insight as a survivor. Her story is one to which many women can relate, and it drives her dedication to her work as a board member.
Barb was a very health-conscious woman with no family history of cancer, so she wasn’t even worried when, during a routine visit in February 2006, her doctor found a lump on her breast—whatever it was, it was benign, she was sure. But that surety turned to shock and disbelief as she received more information about her diagnosis: “Stage 3, Her2Nu+ breast cancer. It was very aggressive and had definitely invaded my lymph system.” Over and over, she thought, “Really? Me?”
As she processed her diagnosis, what became even more surprising to her was how alone she felt. Despite her medical training and her incredibly supportive family and friends, Barb felt deeply isolated by her fear. She didn’t want to express all of her concerns to her husband and kids—they were already anxious enough about her health, she thought, and she didn’t want to make them even more fearful. But internalizing all of those worries took its toll.
“And then other women who had experienced breast cancer came into my life,” Barb describes. “Without words, they spoke my language. They knew my fears. Their mere presence gave me hope that my life, too, would go on.” These were neighbors, acquaintances, and friends of friends—many of whom she barely knew—who reached out to Barb and gave her the kind of support she had been missing, support she could only get from fellow survivors.
“Most importantly, I could openly express my fears without making them fearful. They answered my questions. They understood the world I was living in. They were my light,” Barb says. Barb knows that she was incredibly lucky to have had such an unexpected support system, and she joined our board to help us give more women access to the support of fellow survivors: “When people ask why I am involved with Firefly Sisterhood, I tell them it’s my turn to be a light.”