'Care, Share and Learn' Group is Lifeline for Cancer Patients and Their
It only takes a few meetings for patients to discover that the
Care, Share and Learn group is "a lifeline," says Nancy H. Deen,
MSW, a social worker in the Bodine Center for Cancer Treatment.
Participation in the support group helps dispel any reluctance patients
and their family members may feel initially about being around others who
are more seriously ill than they are. They learn that talking about cancer
does not heighten their distress. And they come to value the peer support
and camaraderie the group offers.
For five years, Ms. Deen has been the facilitator of "Care, Share and
Learn," a free support group for cancer patients and their families.
Each week, an average of 10 to 20 men and women gather for an hour to share
their experiences with cancer and exchange information about coping strategies
and medical resources. It is the only support group of its kind for cancer
patients and their families in Center City, according to Ms. Deen, and is
open to Jefferson and non-Jefferson patients alike.
"Cancer patients are living longer,"she says. "We have 10
million cancer survivors in this country today ­p; the population of
California. When they are diagnosed, many of these people have no idea what
cancer is or where to go for the right information about insurance coverage
or resources such as home care or physical therapy." Even after recovery,
she says, patients benefit from continuing group support to allay fears
that "the cancer might come back."
The topics addressed vary from week to week. Sometimes, the focus is on
clinical decisions and practical problems. Group members may offer advice
to a newly diagnosed patient ("Bring a pad and take notes during your
doctor appointments!") or help someone deal with making a decision
about whether to have a colostomy or mastectomy.
Another week, the emphasis may be on family dynamics ­p; issues surrounding
spouses and children. Stress management, including relaxation techniques,
is another focus. In the past, there have been guest speakers on nutrition,
humor therapy and community resources as well.
The group is diverse in terms of age (from 18 to 89) and situation. While
most participants are currently undergoing treatment for cancer, some are
in remission. Others are family members. One wife of a deceased cancer patient
continues to come to the group and is a great help to other members, Ms.
"We share the good and the bad news. We cheer when someone's test comes
back negative, and we share sorrow and grieving as well," the social
worker says. "The group helps patients see that they're not in this
alone ­p; that it's not just 'me' when they're diagnosed; it's 'us.'
"Care, Share and Learn" meets every Friday from 10:30 to 11:30
a.m. in the Simon Kramer Conference Room, G312, at the Bodine Center for
Cancer Treatment, 111 S. 11th Street. Call 5-8370 for more information.