Group Therapy Improves Lives of Breast Cancer Survivors

By: Dara Rees Email
By: Dara Rees Email

Dr. Barbara Andersen with The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, says group psychotherapy may help women live longer and lower the chances their cancer will return.

The study started 15 years ago with more than 200 newly diagnosed women.

"The whole period was during this very stressful year or their diagnosis, post surgery, beginning their chemotherapy or radiation or both," says D. Andersen.

Shirley Coleman started a local breast cancer support group years ago, and now as a survivor herself, says the support is unmatchable.

"It helps ease their mind it helps them to understand their diagnosis better, and that life goes on after cancer," says Coleman.

Dr. Andersen says the improvements were not only emotional. Women in the study saw fewer side effects from medicines and their chance of reoccurrence was reduced.

"Interventions are very effective at reducing stress, enhancing social relationships, improving patients quality of life, and their symptoms," says Dr. Andersen.

"Emotionally we are supported, educationally we are supported, and mentally we are supported because we share the same aches and pains," says Madge Hall, a nurse in Pikeville's ER and breast cancer survivor.

"Just to give each other information and strength, and I think the more you know what you're fighting, the better you can fight," says Debbie Holbrook, a 13 year survivor.

Dr. Andersen says risk of death was lowered for women participating in the support groups. She also says the therapy would likely have the same effects for people facing other types of cancer.

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