One in 8 American women and 1 in 1,000 American men will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. It’s estimated that more than 2 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.
Breast Cancer Support Group
Provena Healing Arts Pavilion is hosting a "For Ladies Only" mini health fair program to discuss breast cancer issues from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Provena Healing Arts Pavilion, 410 E. Lincoln Highway. Following this, from 6-8 p.m., Dr. Wendy Marshall will address issues and answer questions. Personal testimonies from breast cancer survivors are expected to be shared.
Silver Cross Hospital together with the American Cancer Society is offering an educational program for women facing breast cancer from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, at the Center for Women’s Health Library, 1870 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox. This program covers topics relevant to the cancer experience and offers practical help in coping with some of the emotional issues resulting from a cancer diagnosis. Call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325) or visit www.IMatter.silvercross.org to register to attend.
The hospital regularly hosts the "I Can Cope" breast cancer support group. In addition, there are support groups throughout the Southland area:
- Breast Cancer Support Group, Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Harvey. This group will meed Nov. 6 and Dec. 4. To register for November, click here. To register for December, click here.
- Breast Cancer Health Awareness Forum for the African-American Woman, Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Harvey. This free event takes place Oct. 20, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To register, click here.
- Breast Cancer Support Group, Little Company of Mary Hospital, Evergreen Park. This group meets once a month, except during July. Meetings are from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.
- Breast Cancer Forum, Cancer Support Center, Homewood location. This group meets on the frist Wednesday of every month, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
- Group for People with Cancer, Cancer Support Center, Homewood and Mokena locations. This group is for any person diagonosed with cancer, including breast cancer. The group meets at the Homewood location every tuesday, with meetings in the morning and afternoon. The group meets at the Mokena location on Wednesdays, in the morning.
“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.