Though most breast cancer patients state that their families act as a major support system as they cope with the complex emotions and often debilitating treatments that a diagnosis entails, they find that only fellow patients can fully relate to this struggle. Local breast cancer support groups are an excellent resource that enable fellow patients this kind of therapeutic interaction.
Cape Regional Medical Center, in particular, plays host to a monthly support group meeting through which both patients and their caregivers find strength and knowledge necessary to endure daily tribulations. Gloria Schultz acts as Program Navigator of the group and was happy to share specifics about the resources the program offers.
The Cape Regional Breast Cancer Support Group meets the second Tuesday of each month and provides “an open forum for the ladies to share and discuss their problems and issues,” explains Gloria. There are approximately twenty five women in the program. “They often help each other with suggestions and feel free to ask questions,” she continues. The group can be best described as self-run by the patients themselves. “I like to let the ladies mentor one another,” states Gloria. Group members are also encouraged to bring caregivers to the meetings along with them so that loved ones assisting cancer patients can also share their struggles and counsel one another on how to cope best.
“This program was developed for women by women,” states Gloria, “and offers them a safe place to have a voice about their disease.” Those who are in the stages of diagnosis or treatment as well as survivors have been participants and are more than welcome.
This is Cape Regional’s fourth grant year through the Susan G. Komen Program, and this particular cancer support group has been in effect for two years now. Gloria explained that the group also plays a major role in spreading awareness for the importance and availability of mammograms.
While September’s meeting focused on nutrition, exercise, and cancer prevention tips, the October program will include instruction on relaxation techniques. A speaker will discuss methods of meditation, underlining the fact that both the mind and body must be treated. The emphasis on “integrative therapy” includes massage, relaxation techniques, instructional classes on yoga and exercise and its benefits for breast cancer patients and survivors.
The group also has a Holiday Party planned for their December meeting to ring in the end of the year together. “Our parties are a chance for the ladies to relax, have fun, and laugh,” explains Gloria.
The Cape Regional Medical Center Breast Cancer Support Group meets in the Maruchi Room at Cape Regional the second Tuesday of each month. For more information on the group’s resources and schedule of speakers, call (609) 463-4043.