Discussion Series Provides Valuable Support for Survivors
WHEELING — Education and empathy are bywords for the “Bosom Buddies” discussion series held monthly at Wheeling Hospital.
The next session in the free series will be held in the hospital’s conference room D at 5 p.m. Oct. 18. This month’s meeting will feature a “Celebration of Survivorship” pizza party.
All women living with breast cancer, either newly diagnosed or survivors, may participate in the group. Participants may share ideas, feelings, questions, coping strategies or listen. Attendees may bring a support person. Reservations are not required.
Debby Radosevich, a cancer patient navigator at Wheeling Hospital, said, “Certainly one of the main focuses of the group is that it is an educational program. We provide education to our breast cancer survivors to keep them up to date with current treatments. We have speakers with regards to new things in breast cancer.”
Another important aspect of the program is the emotional support that it provides for the group.
Radosevich said, “They support each other along the way. The women are in various years of survivorship. They (survivors) help the people who are more new. They share their experiences and certainly help them (newly diagnosed women) along the way and support them through their treatments.”
In addition, she said, “We have fun. There is certainly data to support that women who participate in support groups have a better quality of life and do better in survivorship when they have the support of other women.”
The sessions draw both young women and older women. “It’s a pretty wide range of ages of women diagnosed with breast cancer, for sure,” Radosevich said.
The length of time that women participate in the group varies significantly, Radosevich said, adding, “Some people seem to attend the group and get through a rough spot. When they are comfortable where they are, they may not attend the group regularly.”
Other women attend sessions indefinitely.
“They enjoy seeing each other,” Radosevich said. “They’ve really become a family to each other. They often keep in touch with each other outside the support group.”
Survivors often serve as mentors to women who are undergoing treatment by offering encouragement, support and explanation of how they handled specific circumstances during their journey to recovery.
“They are very supportive of each other and help each other every step of the way,” Radosevich said.
Seeing a survivor is beneficial to a person coping with a diagnosis. The navigator said, “Some of the long-term survivors ask whether they should still come to the group. I tell them, ‘You are the perfect example of people who survive and live normal, healthy lives long after.’ It’s certainly very inspirational to them.”
The group meets once a month, with 12-15 people in attendance. Radosevich said, “We have usually a party twice a year, celebrating life and celebrating survivorship. We have a pizza party. We get together and talk and have fun.”
Radosevich, who has been involved with “Bosom Buddies” for about 15 years, said the group has been in existence a long time and some of the original members still participate.
“They become friends. They may not have breast cancer issues, but they like to get together and see everyone,” she said.
If a member has a problem, she said, “They rally around that person. They support them through whatever that concern may be.”
For more information on the discussion series, call Radosevich at 304-243-2989.