Each month, nearly 150 people make their way to Doylestown for help and hope.
They are people who have been affected by cancer. They find answers to their questions and share their experiences at support groups and programs at Doylestown Hospital.
The innovative outreach programs are run by Gilda's Club of the Delaware Valley, Bucks County's cancer support community based out of its clubhouse in Warminster.
The programs offered at Doylestown Hospital are similar to other satellite programs at Abington Medical Center and St. Mary Medical Center, said Rebecca Garwood, Doylestown Hospital’s Gilda’s Club coordinator. The hospital-based communities began in December 2010, she said.
"What we try to provide is sort of a home away from home for anyone who is affected by cancer," Garwood said Tuesday. "What I see happen on a daily basis is they see that they’re not alone, and that is the biggest piece. Somebody’s gone through this exact same thing and come out the other side."
Gilda's Club at Doylestown Hospital is located on the first floor around the corner from the main lobby, and is marked by the club's traditional red door.
It offers support groups, lectures, exercise classes, relaxation workshops, and creative activities to anyone in the community affected by cancer. All the events are free of charge, Garwood said, and are open to people living with any type of cancer, as well as to their families and friends.
The club also currently offers three specific support groups, one for those with breast cancer, one for colorectal cancer and one for spouses of a person who has cancer, Garwood said.
"Support groups are really beneficial," said Debra Somerrs Copit, MD, Director of Breast Imaging at Albert Einstein Medical Center, and a member of the medical advisory board for Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
"When patients are told they’re sick, it can be an out of body experience and they aren’t taking in everything the doctor is saying. It can be helpful to have someone to turn to and learn from who has gone through the same thing," says Copit, who is a breast cancer survivor herself.
Members of the Doylestown Gilda's Club learn a lot from the lectures the group offers, Garwood said, but also from each other.
"Someone will say 'This is the chemotherapy treatment I'm on,' or they mention they are feeling really nausous and someone else will say, 'That happened to me, too, and here's what helped me.' It’s the type of feedback and information they can't always absorb from their doctor," said Garwood, who is a licensed social worker.
For those closer to Warminster, the Breast Cancer Networking group meets regularly at the local Gilda's Club headquarters at 200 Kirk Rd. The next meeting is Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m.
For those who can't get to support groups, or a new breast cancer specific social networking platform MyBreastCancerTeam offers online and mobile services.
And Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers a helpline that connects patients with others in similar situations. Call (888) 753-LBBC (5222) for more information.
Other resources for Bucks County include:
- Holy Redeemer’s Breast Health Program offers a number of support groups for those touched by breast cancer. All groups are free and open to everyone. For more information, visit www.holyredeemer.com/breastcare .
- Bucks County Breast Friends Support Group Join us to discuss the experiences of breast cancer and to share feelings in a nurturing, nonjudgmental environment. Thursday, November 1 and December 6, 7-9 PM. For location: hcfbucks.org. 215-539-3010.
- Living in my Genes Support Group Women and men who may have a genetic risk for cancer can come share their concerns and explore issues surrounding screening and preventative care. Thursday, November 8, 7-8:30 PM. Holy Redeemer Women’s HealthCare at Southampton, 45 2nd Street Pike, Southampton. 215-934-7323.
- Meta Friends Support Group This group, facilitated by psychologist Pam Ginsberg, offers women and men with metastatic (stage 4) breast cancer the opportunity to share their experiences in a supportive, upbeat environment. Wednesdays: October 10, November 14, December 12. 6-7:30 PM. Holy Redeemer Women’s HealthCare at Southampton, 45 2nd Street Pike, Southampton. 215-934-7323.
TELL US: Do you know of any breast cancer support groups in the community? How have they helped you?