One of the worst after effects of breast cancer is the anxiety and fear of the unknown. Those questions which remain unanswerable and the overwhelming challenges to carry on a normal life can feel insurmountable to women who have already endured the surgery and chemotherapy treatment.
Four women are taking it upon themselves to start up a supportive care group for breast cancer survivors in Sooke. Only two of the four have had breast cancer. Phoebe Dunbar, Evonne Black and Mary Dunn, along with a young mom dealing with breast cancer, want to know what the gaps are in the after care, what the needs are and what could be offered in Sooke. Each of the women has had or knows someone who has dealt with breast cancer.
Evonne Black, who was instrumental in starting a group in Calgary, the Breast Cancer Supportive Care Foundation, has seen a need in Sooke.
“Women get very, very good care from their family doctors and the cancer centre, but what do they do after when complications set in?” asks Black. “What are those signals your body sends you now? How do you stay healthy physically and mentally? How do I calm the anxiety I feel and how do I take the steps to be stronger, physically, emotionally and spiritually?”
There are support groups in Victoria but with the exhaustion and lack of energy for many who have endured breast cancer, the trip into “town” is often too much.
Phoebe Dunbar, who just recently under went breast cancer treatment, said that if something like a support group existed in Sooke she would be on the doorstep, because a support system could do so much more to alleviate the fear.
“I had no idea how scary breast cancer is. I have to live with it but what does that mean?” said Dunbar. “Can stress kick something in?”
She had a lot of questions and few answers, as did many of the other women she knew who endured breast cancer and the ensuing treatment.
“Any noise in your body you don’t recognize you wonder, ‘What does this mean?’ said Evonne Black.
Dunbar said the language associated with breast cancer is hard to use. Words like survivor, battle, fight, etc. Both women said there has to be something else for those diagnosed with breast cancer and those who love and care for them, thus the idea for a supportive group which will deal with life after breast cancer. Women need to be able to turn back to their life and fashion a recovery plan, a support group can help with that.
The Calgary-based group Black was involved with was valuable and patients saw that this made a difference and the group wants to draw on that model.
“It would be a starting point of what could occur in Sooke,” Black stated.
She mentioned lectures and ideas for healthy living after breast cancer. Dr. Ardythe Taylor, the founder of the Breast Cancer Supportive Care Foundation, will be willing to come and talk to the group.
Mary Dunn is involved through her nursing experience and supporting friends with breast cancer. Another of the organizers was diagnosed a couple of years ago.
They want to hold a couple of fun events over the next year. One would be the lily walk through the Kladahk Trail at the end of June/early July and an event similar to the fundraising event held for artist Kay Lovett.
They have organized a meeting for May 22 at the Sooke Child Youth and Family Centre building (CASA) at 2145 Townsend Road, from 7 to 9 p.m.