One in eight 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 patients and their loved ones. To help in the battle, there are a number of local resources and support groups.
GOOD SAMARITAN BREAST CARE CENTER: 15400 National Ave., Suite 200,
Los Gatos. Meets second Monday each month at 6:30 p.m.
El CAMINO HOSPITAL LOS GATOS: 815 Pollard Rd., 408-866-3920. Breast cancer support group meets the first Tuesday of each month, 6-7:30 p.m. at the Hospital Conference Center.
- Lymphedema Support Group meets second Thursday of each month, 7:30-9 p.m. at the Physical Performance Institute, 555 Knowles Dr., Suite 100, Los Gatos, 408-866-4059.
- Community Lecture Series: Offered on a monthly basis. Topics include
anything from sexuality and cancer to discussions on current medical
developments and issues facing cancer patients. Details: 888-257-5476 for specific course offerings.
COMMUNITY BREAST HEALTH PROJECT: 545 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, 650-326-6686. Their volunteers and library have the latest information on cancer treatments. They will help you with medical terminology and to prepare for consultations with physicians so you can make your treatment decisions. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Web site - http://www.breasthealthproject.org. Open house meetings are held every Thursday evening from 5:30-7 p.m. Visitors are invited to voice their concerns by asking questions of the various guest speakers who attend each week. The network of speakers includes oncologist, radiologist, breast surgeons, plastic
surgeons, therapist and physical therapist. Every other Wednesday, Jeanne Fournier provides Healing Through Guided Imagery from 5:30-7 p.m.
BAY AREA BREAST CANCER NETWORK: 4320 Steven Creek Blvd., Suite 185,
San Jose, 408-261-1425.
- PRIMARY SUPPORT GROUP- (NON-RECURRENT CANCER): Meets the first and third Mondays of each month from 6:30-8 p.m.
- RECURRENCE SUPPORT GROUP: Meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 6:30-8 p.m.
- COUPLES WORKSHOP: Six week group sessions for couples. Call for schedule.
- TRANSITION GROUP: For those who have completed cancer treatment. Meets the first and third Mondays of each month at 6:30-8 p.m.
STANFORD HOSPITAL and CLINICS - CANCER SUPPORTIVE CARE PROGRAM: Complementary Medicine Clinic, 1101 Welch Road, Bldg. A, Suite 6, Palo Alto, 650-498-5566. Support and education for cancer patients and their families. Lecture series provided throughout the year. Educational classes offered on various cancer related topics - treatments, side effects and personal relationships. Classes offered in Tai Chi, Restorative Yoga, Healing Art of Poem Making, Group Support and Nutritional Consultations. Call for current schedule.
“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?