Support Systems

Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer or you want to support a friend or family member, there is support. Information on breast cancer advocacy and support groups may be found on local news channels, community posters, the Internet, and church-related listings.

Breast cancer also has the distinct honor of claiming the entire month of October as Breast Cancer Awareness month. During this time, efforts to increase awareness are stepped up with events that promote fundraising for cancer prevention, patient support, and research.

Organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Foundationand the American Cancer Societyinspire millions of cancer survivors, patients, and their families to continue the battle against this deadly disease. Organizations provide information about breast cancer, treatment options, research for a cure, and survivor stories. But that’s not all.

Hospital Resources

Hospitals with dedicated cancer centers have a variety of services for patients and families. These services may include a wig bank, prosthetics, and a cancer clinical nurse specialist. The wig bank offers support in selecting the proper fit and style and teaches wig care. The prosthetic department provides sensitive support in obtaining the proper fit and shape of a prosthetic device for a patient’s body.

A clinical nurse specialist is a vital link in a patient’s treatment. They’ve been specially trained in the field and make sure a patient’s treatment goes smoothly. They’re there every step of the way to answer questions, explain diagnoses and processes, and provide one-on-one support. They act as a liaison across many healthcare teams to ensure treatment is as efficient and effective as possible.

At hospitals with more limited resources, social workers can put patients and family members in touch with local breast cancer support groups and local merchants that specialize in cancer support services. Many hospitals with oncology clinics run support groups for breast cancer patients and offer professional psychological support along various stages of the disease.

Whether your search for information and support is for yourself, a friend, or a family member, the following organizations can help you navigate the fight against breast cancer.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation                    1-800-462-9273

www.komen.org       

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is perhaps the most widely-recognized organization that promotes breast cancer awareness through publications and fund-raising events. The Komen Foundation sponsors the annual events Race for the Cure and The 3-Day to raise money for research and community programs. Businesses and individuals sponsor participants in local or national events by racing or walking together in an inspiring sea of pink, the support color of this cancer.

American Cancer Society (ACS)                                                    1-800-227-2345

www.cancer.org

The national organization for cancer offers a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week call center that answers questions regarding all types of cancers. The ACS offers information on local resources of support for cancer patients and their families.

Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund

www.avonbreastcare.org

Avon carries its message of hope through its efforts to raise funds for medically underserved breast cancer patients. By donating part of its sales revenue, Avon provides community-based treatment and screening services. Through Avon's efforts, many women receive free mammograms in their communities.

National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO)

www.nabco.org

Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NABCO is a major source of information on breast cancer.

National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC)                               1-800-6222-2838

www.natlbcc.org

This grassroots advocacy organization shares news on everything from current breast cancer research to public policy. The NBCC is currently sponsoring the Breast Cancer Deadline 2020, to eradicate breast cancer by the year 2020. Sign an online petition to the President of the United States in support of the deadline.

National Cancer Institute (NCI)                                                  1-800-422-6237

www.cancer.gov

The NCI, one of the institutes under the NIH, offers statistics on all types of cancer. They also have information on current government research and funding programs and the official bulletins on clinical trials with new anti-cancer drugs. The NCI produces a bi-weekly newsletter on current advances in cancer research.

Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization                             1-800-221-2141

www.y-me.org

This organization pairs breast cancer patients with mentors of the same age and diagnosis, for emotional support and information and resource sharing. Y-Me also provides partners of breast cancer patients with similar support services. The organization offers a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week call center manned by breast cancer survivors.

Check your local library for information on local groups, events, and talks on breast cancer.