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.
Here is a list of breast cancer support groups in the greater Boston area, and their phone numbers:
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Breast Cancer Support Group, 617-667-2661
- Fenway Community Health Lesbians with Cancer Support Group, 617-927-6243
- NE Medical Center Breast Cancer Support Groups, 617-636-6145
- Dana Farber Cancer Institute Support Groups, 617-632-3301
- Mind/Body Medicine Program, 617-499-5665 ext. 4664.
- Look Good, Feel Better Program, 617-499-5665 ext. 4656.
Mount Auburn Hospital has a number of support groups at its campus in Cambridge.
- The hospital's Breast Cancer Support Group for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer meets on a bi-weekly basis.
- The Metastatic Breast Cancer Support Group meets twice a month.
- The hospital also offers a free program called Look Good Feel Better which teaches beauty techniques to women cancer patients in active treatment to help them combat the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment.
- To participate in these support groups or for further information, please call 617-499-5665 ext. 4656.
Newton-Wellesley Hospital's Vernon Cancer Center offers a Breast Cancer Support Group for women currently in treatment for breast cancer. It provides women an opportunity to gain emotional support through discussion of concerns related to diagnosis and treatment. The group meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 617-219-1230.
Individuals can also get online advice and support from one of the Ellie Fund's bloggers at elliefund.org/avengers. The Ellie Fund is a Needham-based nonprofit organization that raises money to fight breast cancer. The site also offers some inspirational videos featuring a few of the organization's "unsung heroes"—kids coping with cancer.
And if you are looking for more action than personal support, check out a local organization like the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and ask how you can help.
“Support groups are really beneficial,” said Debra Somers 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,” said 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, 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 Needham community? How have they helped you?