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Why Support Groups for Breast Cancer Patients Can Be Powerful

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We all know that support can be a powerful thing – especially when we’re going through a difficult time in our lives. For some of us, that difficult time could be undergoing a health scare or illness, or even a more serious chronic condition, such as cancer.

For survivors of breast cancer, support groups can be a powerful resource, depending on the individual’s needs and what he or she is comfortable with. As a resource for those survivors who are comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with others, The American Cancer Society lists a wide variety of support groups for cancer survivors and patients. These support groups can provide a survivor the chance to share his or her experiences in a safe environment where he or she feels understood.

A breast cancer diagnosis, or any type of cancer, is a very scary experience and can often leave a person feeling isolated and alone. Support groups can provide an avenue for breast cancer survivors to feel connected and an opportunity for them to channel their feelings and talk about their journey with others who can truly relate and understand how they feel. Survivors can bond and create lasting friendships with others in their support groups.

Many hospitals and local health organizations offer support groups for people who have been recently diagnosed. Other groups are designed for those undergoing chemotherapy or those dealing with fear of breast cancer recurrence.

At the Lieselotte Tansey Breast Center at Ochsner in New Orleans, two breast cancer support groups are offered: one general support group and a newer group held for young breast cancer survivors. Both are held in the Breast Center and are open groups, allowing survivors the chance to attend the groups as needed or as their schedules allow.

The general support group provides speakers and topics of interest throughout the year in addition to opportunities for survivors to have open discussion and express their immediate concerns. In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month this October, survivors celebrated life, enjoyed poetry readings and shared with each other their experiences and journeys.

Aside from the opportunity to engage with other breast cancer survivors, the groups also offer educational opportunities with speakers who address areas of community resources, health and wellness. Some topics have included stress management, sexual health and intimacy, breast reconstruction, social security disability and nutrition to name a few.

For more details on either support group offered at the Lieselotte Tansey Breast Center at Ochsner, contact Melissa Smith, MSW, LCSW, Oncology Social Worker at 504-842-3910.

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