Breast Cancer Patients Have Extensive Support System
A variety of support groups are available locally in St. Louis for patients living with breast cancer or who are newly diagnosed with it.
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 2 million people are diagnosed with breast cancer and fight for their lives each year.
Moral, educational and practical support and help are crucial for those who are living with breast cancer or who are newly diagnosed with it. 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.
According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, support groups play a crucial role in the needs of cancer patients.
"Support groups vary in their focus," notes a Komen brochure. "Some groups exist mainly to provide information and education (for example, what to expect with chemotherapy treatment as well as tips on how to cope). Other groups focus on providing emotional support."
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.
Cancer Support Community of Greater St. Louis (formerly The Wellness Community) is a not-for-profit agency that offers offers professionally-led support groups, networking groups, educational workshops, nutrition and gentle exercise programs, and stress-reduction classes in all areas of the community.
The organization's mission is to "ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community."
The various groups of the Cancer Support Community generally meet on a bi-weekly schedule and offer attendees a chance to discuss transition from active treatment to post-treatment life and the emotional impact of living as a cancer survivor. Groups require a short group preparation meeting in advance, face-to-face with clinical staff. For more information, including dates and times of meetings, call 314-238-2000.
At SSM St. Clare Health Center, 1015 Bowles Ave., Fenton, which offers a variety of support before and after a breast cancer diagnosis through its SSM Breast Care program, the support group called Women Supporting Women offers education and other support for breast cancer survivors. The group meets monthly on Tuesdays. For more information, call 636-496-4620.
In addition to benefitting from the combined resources and expertise in the seven-hospital SSM Health Care - St. Louis system, St. Clare also utilizes a program called Nurse Navigators, who work closely with with patients every step of the process, should they need additional imaging, chemotherapy or surgery.
Two small, church-related support groups in the south St. Louis County area also provide support for breast cancer survivors. They are:
Mary Mother of the Church, 5901 Kerth Road, Concord - A prayer and support group that meets from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on the first Monday of the month. Call Laura Klages at 314-894-1373 for more information.
St. Martin United Church of Christ, 3229 High Ridge Blvd., High Ridge - A cancer support group in northern Jefferson County that meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. For information, contact Lloyd Shotton at 636-600-1248.