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. The Pomona Valley Medical Center provided the list below. Check out their website for more information.
- Look Good...Feel Better - The American Cancer society in partnership with the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Assoc. and the National Cosmetology Assoc. focuses on personal appearance for women undergoing cancer treatment. A free makeup kit is provided. This class will focus on ways you can look and feel your including the use of wigs, hats, scarves, make-up, clothing, skin and nail changes, nutrition, exercise, coping tips. Meets the fourth Monday of every month at 10 a.m. in the Community Room. RSVP is required to (800) 227-2345.
- When Cancer Enters Your Life - This sharing group is for anyone who has cancer or supports a relative, friend, loved one or co-worker, living with cancer. Meets the first Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. in the Professional Library.
- Women with Cancer - A sharing support group for all women with any type of cancer. Meets the second Monday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Professional Library.
- Breast Cancer Support – Those battling breast cancer can discuss how the illness affects women physically, mentally and spiritually. Meets the fourth Monday of every month at 7:00 pm in the Professional Library.
- Kidz Group - For youngsters 7-17, whose parent and/or loved one has cancer. A licensed therapist leads the group. Dinner provided. Registration is requested. Call (909) 865- 9958. Meets the first Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. in the Community Room.
- Bereavement/Loss Support Group – This group is for those who is experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one. Family members/friends welcome. For information, contact Inland Hospice Association at (909) 399-3289. Meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Professional Library and every Thursday at 3 p.m. in the Community Room.
“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?