One-in-eight American women and one-in-1,000 American men will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. It’s estimated that more than two million people are diagnosed with breast cancer and fight for their lives each year.
Breast cancer is difficult to face alone — for both patients and their loved ones. To help in the battle, there are a number of local resources and support groups.
Red Bank's Riverview Medical Center hosts a regular breast cancer support group for the newly diagnosed, those currently undergoing treatment and breast cancer survivors. The group is held on first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the 4th floor diagnostics area at Riverview Medical Center. For more information or to register, please contact Rose Guiga at 732-859-8857.
CancerCare, which has a satellight office in Red Bank, provides free, professional support services to individuals, families, caregivers, and the bereaved to help them better cope with and manage the emotional and practical challenges arising from cancer. Their services include counseling and support groups, educational publications and workshops, and financial assistance. All of our services are provided by professional oncology social workers and are offered completely free of charge.
CancerCare's contact number is 800‑813‑HOPE.
“Support groups are really beneficial,” says Debra Somerrs Copit, MD, Director of Breast Imaging at Albert Einstein Medical Center, and a member of the medical advisory board for Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
“When patients are told they’re sick, it can be an out of body experience and they aren’t taking in everything the doctor is saying. It can be helpful to have someone to turn to and learn from who has gone through the same thing,” says Copit, who is a breast cancer survivor herself.
Not only do groups offer emotional support, but being a part of a support group can actually help patients feel less depressed and can help to reduce physical pain, according to a 2001 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Patients who aren’t big fans of group settings but still want to reap the benefits can turn to technology. It’s hard to duplicate in-person support groups on the web, but the recently launched breast cancer specific social networking platform, MyBreastCancerTeam comes close.
The site and mobile app caters to breast cancer survivors, and women who have been recently diagnosed. Users can find suggestions for doctors and find similar users based on location, diagnosis and age. Members also have access to peer-driven Q&A section where they can read and write posts.
While a web platform may be useful for some, Dr.Copit worries that online forums can sometimes trigger the spread of misinformation. She suggests that patients who can’t make it to an in-person support group try calling a phone line.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer has a confidential survivors’ helpline that connects patients with others of similar background, going through similar situation. Call (888) 753-LBBC (5222) for more information.
TELL US: Do you know of any breast cancer support groups in the community? How have they helped you?