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.
Middlefield's After the Storm Inc. was founded by local resident Christine Willett, a breast cancer survivor who raises money to fund "integrative medicine programs that help cancer patients heal their mind, body and spirit."
On Oct. 21, a team from the Middlefield Dancer Center in Middlefield will participate in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk 5K at Bushnell Park in Hartford.
The team hopes to raise $5,000. To participate or to donate, visit www.cancer.org/makingstrides and look for MDC Pink. Donations may also be dropped off at the Middlesex Dance Center, 50 Main Street, Middlefield or sent to MDC Pink, P.O. Box 178 Durham, CT 06422 (Make checks payable to American Cancer Society).
In Durham, Durham Fitness is helping to spread the word for early detection by having its third annual Pedal for Pink on Oct. 27. The event will take place from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
The event is open to both gym members and non-gym members. A donation of $20 includes a t-shirt and water bottle. Proceeds will be donated to Breast Cancer Awareness.
“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?