Support Group Helps Breast Cancer Survivors

When you're feeling down, a lot of times it helps to talk to someone. That's the idea behind a breast cancer support group in Cape Girardeau. The support group at Southeast Hospital is helping Heartland women cope. Breast cancer patients have to go through surgery, chemo, and radiation, an experience they can all relate to.

Breast cancer survivor Dianne Meyr says, "I was so scared, because I had a young child at home and I just didn't know what was going to happen." That was nine years ago, today Dianne is cancer free. But she'll never forget what she went through. That's why she goes to a breast cancer support group. Paula Stout is a physical therapist and leader of the support group. She says, "I think this provides a forum for them to talk about their feelings, and the things they're going through with someone who's been through the same thing. Sometimes it's even hard to talk to your family because you don't want to upset them." Dianne says, "A lot of times the women tell humorous stories and that really helps because laughter really releases the stress you feel when you have cancer."

A lot of Paula's patients are women who have had breast cancer, and go there for lymphodema treatments, a painful side affect of breast cancer. "Lymphodema is a complication some women get after breast cancer because of the removal of the lymph nodes, they might get swelling in the arm," Paula says.

It happened to Dianne, a year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had treatment and got better, but she still has to wear a compression sleeve on her arm to keep the swelling down. It's one of the ways her body's changed since she had breast cancer, and just one of the things she talks about with her group. "I come away from there feeling a lot better about some of the worries I might have. They're just a big support," Dianne says.

The support group meets in the Cancer Center at Southeast Hospital the first Thursday of every month. Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau has a similar support group, so do other Heartland hospitals.