One in 8 American women and 1 in 1,000 American men are battling breast cancer today. 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.
Pink for Tomorrow is a support group created by two local women who fought breast cancer together. Beverly Raudabaugh of Lake Forest and Sue Barkhausen of Lake Bluff now run the support group, and operate a website for online support. Sue can be contacted at 847-234-5925 or Bev at 847-814-7423 to find out more about when the next meeting is, and to gain access online.
The Cancer Wellness Center offers a co-ed cancer support group as well as a post-treatment breast cancer support group. Meetings are held at the Wildwood Presbyterian Church in Grayslake and the Northbrook Cancer Wellness Center. To register call 847-509-9595.
Another support group meets at the Graham Medical Office Building in Evanston. Sponsored by the NorthShore University Health System the class meets the second Tuesday of the month from 7 - 8:30 p.m. For more information contact Carol Flanagan at 847-926-5818.
The American Cancer Society also offers a one-on-one peer support program for women facing breast cancer. The service is free of charge. Contact the coordinator at 800-782-7716 for more information.
“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?