One in eight American women and one 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.
Sturdy Memorial Hospital Oct. 31: A breast cancer support group meeting will take place at 211 Park St. in Attleboro on Oct. 31 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in conference rooms A, B and C. For more information, call Ellen Gilbert at 508-236-7015.
Jewish Family Service Oct. 16: A breast cancer support group meeting will take place the third Tuesday of each month at 959 N. Main St. in Providence. Refreshments will be served.
Holy Family Hospital Chapel, Cremin Suite Nov. 5: Sheila Brodie-Zetlan will lead a breast cancer support group from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. the first Monday of every month at 70 East Street in Methuen, except when the Monday falls on a holiday. In that case, the meeting will take place on the second monday. Meetings are free. Prior to attending your first meeting, call 978-687-0156 ext. 4179.
"Support groups are really beneficial," said Dr. Debra Somerrs Copit, 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," said Copit, who is also a breast cancer survivor.
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 a 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?