By Katie Ryan
Hope is the aim of a new local support group for breast cancer survivors.
As the brainchild of two breast cancer survivors – Donna Arie and Bev Orr – the group is only in its infancy, however, Arie said it’s much needed.
“People always say there isn’t a breast cancer support group here and there’s no support for people with breast cancer, and we thought ‘Well, we’ll try and see if there is any interest in having a group that could give some support.’ We just thought we’d give it a try,” said Arie.
In 1997 Arie was first diagnosed with breast cancer and then again the following year. A long time volunteer of the Lloydminster Canadian Cancer Society unit, Arie offered her time and support to different programs with the Canadian Cancer Society such as Reach to Recovery, as well as peer support by phone. But, Arie said, she’d rather visit with people face to face through the new group and offer support in person.
“I did have breast cancer survivors visit me at the time in the hospital – both times, because I had my surgery in Lloyd. I did have that and I knew some people who had breast cancer, so I did have some support, but I think a group would be nice because you talk and help other people that way,” said Arie, who volunteers with Relay for Life as well.
“It’s so devastating when you are diagnosed with cancer of any kind and it just helps so much to be able to talk to someone who has been through it. I think just seeing them healthy and happy, going on with life, it really boosts your spirits to see someone that has been through it and be able to talk to them about it.”
The support group evolved from a conversation between Arie and Orr in the spring, and Monday night marked the breast cancer support group’s first meeting. A Canadian Cancer Society representative from Regina met with the ladies about a month ago to provide insight and ideas to the new local breast cancer support group.
And while both Arie and Orr contacted a number of survivors in advance, prior to the meeting Arie said she was not sure how many would show up to the 7 p.m. event. So long as there’s interest though, she said, the group will meet.
“What we would like to do is get it established so that if someone is diagnosed, then they could contact us and come to the group. That was the idea of it,” she said, noting that how often the group will meet, as well as meeting agendas are open for discussion. “We talked about lots of different things, but one part that would always be at every meeting would be a networking time, a time for people to talk to each other and ask questions or share information. And then we were hoping that for some of the meetings, we could bring in somebody, such as a professional, a doctor or a nurse (to speak). We also talked about doing things like going to a yoga class and let people see what that’s all about, for instance. There’s no end of possibilities.”
What is certain though, said Arie, is that members of the group will undoubtedly share their brushes with breast cancer and road to recovery.
“It doesn’t matter when you get together with other people who have had breast cancer, you always navigate to talking about it,” she said. “I know that just with Bev, when I found out that she had (cancer) and we started discussing it, well right away it was a 20-minute to half hour conversation.”
It’s from those conversations that Arie said she hopes the group will be able to help breast cancer survivors embrace their futures and even help others.
“I hope that it would help them feel better and to face the days ahead. Especially for newly diagnosed people, just give them hope. Hopefully we’ll be able to give some information too,” she said. “This is the part that I really enjoy, the support part.”
For more information on when the breast cancer support group meets next, contact the Canadian Cancer Society office at 306-825-7722.