Wondering what's next? Life after cancer

April 21, 2016

Michelle Schoneman, health education intern

The Swedish Cancer Institute offers a support group for cancer patients interested in learning how to adjust to life after treatment. The support group After Breast Cancer: What’s Next? features a variety of topics ranging from stress management and fear of reoccurrence, to body image and sexuality. Throughout the program, participants discuss these various topics in a safe and supportive environment, while simultaneously completing a personal survivorship plan. This plan will help you stay on track, and be a frame of reference for what you have accomplished in group.

women in a support groupThis class is taught by a health professional who has experience in survivorship-based programs. This facilitator helps you personalize your plan, so that it effectively matches your goals after treatment here at the Swedish Cancer Institute, and contains the information that is most important as you move forward.

The After Breast Cancer: What’s Next? support group is designed specifically for breast cancer patients and the issues associated with being a breast cancer survivor. Each meeting begins with a general overview of the week’s topic and then group members go deeper by exploring how the topic relates to aspects of their own lives. This style of group is carried through each of the sessions. Former participants have responded very positively, stating, "This program is well thought out and easy to understand," and commenting that the environment was "very supportive and encouraging but also realistic and instructional." While the theme changes each week, group members are always encouraged to share their thoughts and to add these new skills for dealing with survivorship to their personal plans.

Some of the topics currently discussed in the ABC Group include:

  • The Whole You?
  • Relationships
  • Cancer Fighting Nutrition and Fitness
  • Intimacy

As mentioned, an important element to both of these groups is that when you finish the series, you leave with a personalized survivorship plan. This not only helps you remember the support you received during group, but also gives future guidance when you are faced with a challenging situation. With this plan, you can refer back to topics you have chosen to include, reminding you of the coping skills you learned in group. To sign up or learn more about the classes we offer, please go to Swedish.org/Classes or call 1-800-SWEDISH to register. One of the great things about the After Breast Cancer: What's Next series is that it is free to patients of Swedish; the only requirements are that you have completed treatment and that you register in advance. Many patients have stated they would definitely recommend the series to others, citing it was "very helpful, and very hopeful." Patients also appreciated that each week had a structured topic, but also allowed time for free discussion. If you would like to sign up and get many of the same benefits these patients have received, please call us at 1-800-SWEDISH today!

From the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Life to the Fullest, the newsletter from the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) dedicated to cancer patients, survivors, and their family members and caregivers.

Topics: Cancer, Women