By Pat Carragher - October 17, 2022
If you’re one of the 1 in 8 women who will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, having the support of others is an important part of survivorship. For patients at Moffitt Cancer Center, there are several ways to know you are not alone.
Support groups are an effective way to reduce the stress and anxiety that come with a breast cancer diagnosis. It’s why Moffitt offers two kinds of groups to provide resources to women in their individual cancer journeys.
The “Breast Cancer Connection” group is available for all patients with breast cancer, regardless of stage or type of diagnosis. The group meets on the first Tuesday of each month and is a place where patients can confide in one another, ask their most pressing questions and receive support from someone who has been in their shoes before.
“They’re all going through so many different feelings at the same time, so it’s important to have someone they can relate to,” said Molly Baker, an outpatient social worker at Moffitt. “Whether it’s the fear of what’s to come with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, we have people in that group who have history with breast cancer. They can all offer insight and hope to those who are just going through it.”
There’s also a group specifically geared toward patients with metastatic breast cancer. It’s a diagnosis that comes with its own unique challenges when it comes to living with ongoing treatments.
“The group is so welcoming and loving to those who come in,” Baker said. “The support that they provide to one another is invaluable. The acknowledgement of what they’re going through, how they know what each other has been through already allows them to know when someone needs extra support or making extra space when they need it.”
According to the American Cancer Society, treatment can often shrink or slow tumors, improve symptoms and help some women live longer, but ultimately metastatic breast cancers are considered incurable.
“Being able to get support and then reciprocate it fills our soul in a different way when it comes to coping,” said Kori Hatfield, an oncology social worker at Moffitt. “I think because of the unique needs of someone with a metastatic diagnosis, it can be hard to reconcile what it means to face a potentially life limiting disease. The uniqueness of that support is something that they really honor.”
"Because of the unique needs of someone with a metastatic diagnosis, it can be hard to reconcile what it means to face a potentially life limiting disease."- Kori Hatfield, oncology social worker
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, both support groups met in person. With the rise in video meetings, each moved to a virtual format, which allowed for even more participants to support one another.
“Our participants do a wonderful job of supporting one another by normalizing the experience,” Hatfield said. “There’s a lot of laughter and a lot of healing in these groups with the ways they describe the things that they’re going through. It feels a lot like a group of friends getting together.”
Moffitt Cancer Center offers these breast cancer support groups:
Breast Cancer Connection
First Tuesday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Support Group
Every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Please call the Social Work Office at 813-745-8407 or visit Moffitt.org/SupportGroups for information.