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.
- Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel hosts support groups for breast cancer, as well as a multitude of other cancers and diseases. Find the right one for you on their website.
- Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank offers several cancer support programs. The hospital's Breast Cancer Support Group is for those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, those currently under treatment, or survivors. The group is held on first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the 4th floor diagnostics area at Riverview Medical Center. For more information or to register, please contact Rose Guiga at 732-859-8857.
- The American Cancer Society offers regular support to women diagnosed with breast cancer at their location at 2310 Rte 34 Ste 1D in Manasquan.
- Join an online support group with the Cancer Support Community of Central New Jersey. The Virtual Cancer Support Community delivers real-time online support groups led by trained professionals, educational resources, mind-body exercises, and nutrition information.
- The Cancer Institute of New Jersey sponsors a Breast Cancer Support Group to help improve the education of patients with this disease, provide the opportunity to receive information and to facilitate sharing among breast cancer survivors. The meetings are held on the first and third Monday of the month from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick. One meeting each month will be an open discussion that is for patients only. The second meeting each month will be focused on a specific topic with invited guest speakers. Patients and support persons may attend these sessions. For more information please contact Deborah Leif, MSW, LCSW at 732-235-7011.
“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? Share them below in the comment section.