Breast Cancer Support Groups

by Jaclyn Herring, PhD

 

It is an understatement to say that hearing a diagnosis of breast cancer can be frightening. This may give way to feelings of confusion and isolation as the shock wears off and treatment begins and ends. Support groups can help with the multitude of feelings you may have experienced or are experiencing.   An influential 1989 study showed that breast cancer survivors who attended a support group lived longer than those who did not attend a support group.   Certainly many things have changed in the 13 years since that study was published.  More understanding and increased opportunities for support likely mitigate such dramatic differences for those who attend a group compared to those who do not. However, support groups can aid physical and emotional recovery by reducing isolation, providing acceptance and empathy, sharing coping techniques and a “we know what you are going through” perspective.  The number one thing support groups can provide is HOPE.   All studies have shown an increased psychological well-being for the majority of those who attend a breast cancer support group.

There are support groups for breast cancer patients and survivors in our community, through hospitals and other agencies. They provide wonderful resources for many people in the North Hills and the Pittsburgh region.  In some cases the local support groups may not be the right fit for everyone seeking support. This was the case with “RW” who attended a local support group and was unable to connect with both the process of the group and the message of the group. “RW” felt shut out from the support group process, since she had looked into all of the resources that were available to her.  Or so she thought.  It turned out that she knew two other women who had been treated for breast cancer and she invited them to lunch. Not surprisingly, those two women knew other women. They joined the lunch group. Then others heard about the lunches and they were invited to join the lunch group. Within a fairly short order, the lunch group was meeting monthly, with an average attendance of 14. A support group was born and has met now for 10 years.

Consider attending a breast cancer support group in the area.  If they don’t meet your needs, consider starting one of your own.  If you would like to start your own support group, we can help you with the ‘what to do’, ‘how to do’ it and even the ‘where to do’ it.  Our space in Mars is open to you.