A diagnosis of breast cancer can feel both scary and overwhelming for a person. When a patient is at home trying to process what lies ahead, the unknown can feel isolating. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, the people at Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program have set up a program for everyone across the state. The group will work together to educate, support, empower, and advocate for breast cancer patients, and all from the comfort and convenience of their own home.
Erin L. Nau, LCSW, Counseling and Education Coordinator for Adelphi, said the group they currently have up and running was formed to meet the needs of women younger than 40. She said this age group in particular often finds it difficult to find the time to meet outside of the home because of their schedules, so in response, the group was formed to meet the needs of any woman, anywhere in the state, including Upstate.
“We know many of these young women are starting families, careers, or just getting married. An online group is an invaluable resource for this group,” said Nau.
This group is supported by a Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions — SPARC — grant from the International Association for Social Work with Groups. Adelphi was awarded a grant through SPARC this past June, according to Nau, who says the grant gives them resources they need to operate such a group, with materials like headsets, webcams, and microphones.
“You can use a laptop, tablet, even a home computer. There is even an app women can use. We will help to supply what is needed, we want the group to be accessible to anyone, anywhere in the state,” said Nau.
Nau said the online groups are made of 15 women, and so far it has been “very successful” in providing a network of women, as well as connecting the group to professionals that they may not otherwise have access to. She recalls one women dialing into a group from a hospital as she was about to have surgery. The group also has online events, including one on Oct. 18, where they will celebrate survivors. The event will be streamed on Facebook Live and YouTube, again making it accessible to women, and men, all over the state.
For women in Fulton and Montgomery counties, the significance of such a group makes it possible for women to come together with other young women coping with breast cancer.
“Whether she is in a rural area where there are no groups, in a hospital, or at home or work. All she needs is a cell phone to be part of the group,” said Nau.
According to Adelphi, in New York state alone, approximately 14,028 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Nau said as a result of this, non-profits like Adelphi exist to ensure that no person affected by breast cancer has to face it alone.
Nau said while the online support groups are currently setup to accommodate women younger than 40, she said if there is a need for another demographic, they will find a way to get that group the support they are looking for.
“If I have three women or one man call me and say that they need a support group, we can do that. There’s always something for everyone any resident in New York state. We have Spanish for those who need it, resources for family members, including counseling with caregivers. If there is an interest, we can form a group. We are here to guide you to resources that may help you, in the community you live in. We are here to support and empower you to make the decisions that are right for you,” said Nau.
In addition to the online group, they also The Adelphi statewide breast cancer hotline and support program. This resource was first established in 1980, and has provided information and emotional support to breast cancer patients, their families and friends.
Information on the online group, hotline support, contacts for free or low-cost mammograms can be found by calling (800) 877-8077 or by visiting http://breast-cancer.adelphi.edu.