According to a Long Island breast cancer study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, more than 130,000 cases were reported in Nassau County between 2000-04. For these individuals full support or light support is available on a local and national level.
Traditional support groups find participants sitting in a circle sharing stories, struggles and advice. But breast cancer patients and survivors can find comfort and help in many ways and in many places, both in person and online.
Major breast cancer websites have online discussion groups where people may connect, get tips or share advice for coping with treatments and side effects. Among our favorites:
Plenty of information, such as “what to do the day of surgery,” is readily available. Some of these major websites also have thousands of discussion boards, many of them splintering into local meet-ups.
“Support groups help validate your experience,” said Selma Schimmel, founder of Vital Options International, a cancer communications and advocacy organization. She is also a breast cancer survivor and author of the book, “Cancer Talk.”
Schimmel believes breast cancer patients who attend support groups have an easier time and survive longer because they get positive energy and up-to-date information during what can be an emotional tidal wave. Groups are a great place to learn about side effects, clinical trials and trends with treatment, she said.
Men Against Breast Cancer offers online resources to men who want to support women in their lives with breast cancer. Survivors are the heart of another group, SHARE, which offers support to women in and around New York City who have been diagnosed with breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
Tobey Young of Oceanside, started a support group on Long Island after feeling that she didn’t have the support she needed after her mastectomy. Previvors and Survivors offers a forum, shopping and carpooling services, meal delivery and other services for patients and their families.
“My experience made me want to help others,” she said.
Other Long Island-based support groups include:
- Early Stage Breast Cancer Support Group
- Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program
- Breast Cancer Series meets weekly, 5:30 to 7 p.m., at North Shore University Hospital-Sandra Atlas Bass Campus, Radiation Oncology Department, 300 Community Drive, Manhasset. Please call 562-2825 for dates and pre-registration.
- Beyond Breast Cancer meets twice monthly on Tuesdays, 5:30 to 7 p.m. at North Shore University Hospital-Sandra Atlas Bass Campus. Please contact Gina DiVincenzo, LCSW, at 562-2825 for exact locations and registration. Discussion group for women diagnosed with breast cancer that are completing their treatment process and beyond.
- 1 in 9: The Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition provides support and a hotline.
- The Hewlett House, operated by the 1 in 9 organization offers a place for Long Islanders to go who feel isolated or in dispair dealing with their cancer diagnosis and/or treatment.