Cancer Support Group: The importance of joining (cont.)

Moderator: What can the medical community offer to support groups?

Schimmel: One of the things they can do is acknowledge what many physicians are doing, which is the importance of support groups. They can participate in the groups, and actively refer their patients to groups. When you go to your doctor, your doctor should be able to tell you which they're involved with. Oncology nurses are great, social workers are great, and doctors are now coming around. Doctors need to treat more than the body, because we're not our disease. We want to be seen as more than our disease. Whatever was going on in our life before cancer, is still there. So doctors can help us integrate the experience of cancer into our lives, and make sure they're not just looking out for our clinical issues, but they're sensitive to what's going on with us emotionally. Doctors need to talk to women about issues related to sexuality, and body issues unique to women who are thrown into spontaneous menopause because of HRT or surgery or chemo that they're receiving. Doctors need to address not only those issues, but have a full discussion about what you can expect from side effects. And when we talk to them about side effects, to have them take it seriously and not just come back with "be lucky you're alive".

Moderator: We are out of time, Selma. Do you have any closing remarks?

Schimmel: Be strong, be tough, be wise. No one has to go through cancer alone, and I beg people to reach out for support. It doesn't mean you're weak, or you're not coping... it means you're human. Call Vital Options, our number is 800-GRP-ROOM... We are just a phone call away. Check out our website at www.vitaloptions.org. If you need a resource not listed, send us an e-mail or give us a call. We want to help people find a voice through the experience of cancer.

Moderator: Thank you for joining us, Selma. Please join us again Wednesday at 6 p.m. EST in the Women's Health Place Auditorium when we present a live audiocast, "Lymph edema: A Breast Cancer Patient's Guide to Prevention and Healing" with Jeannie Burt and Gwen White.

Thanks for joining us.

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