Local Breast Cancer Support Groups Available to Help

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here's a list of breast cancer support groups.

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 two 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.

The Princeton YWCA's Breast Cancer Resource Center, for example, offers multiple support groups:

Our breast cancer support groups empower and provide much needed support throughout the year. We offer several support groups led by a professional facilitators at our center: “Coping with Breast Cancer,” “Beyond Breast Cancer,” “Advanced Breast Cancer” for women living with Stage IV breast cancer, “Young Survivors” for women under age 40, “Angeles Rosados Latina”. We also provide a woman-to-woman network and private counseling with a clinical social worker specializing in breast cancer. Most groups meet at the Breast Cancer Resource Center in a comfortable, informal setting where they get the support of peers, guidance, and education from recovery and long-term.

The Cancer Instutute of NJ (CINJ) in cooperation with Saint Peter's University Hospital holds a support group at 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month. According to the CINJ website, one meeting each month is meant for open discussion and the second meeting focuses on a specific topic with a guest speaker. For more information please contact Deborah Leif 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? How have they helped you?



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