Threat to breast cancer support groups

October is breast cancer awareness month and the specialist breast care nurses at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are highlighting the fact that time could be running out for the support groups set up locally to help patients diagnosed with breast cancer.

Funded from charitable donations and bequests, these support groups offer a lifeline to women with breast cancer, providing a welcome diversion as well as a chance to share their thoughts and fears in a safe environment.

There is just enough money in the hospital’s endowment fund to keep all the groups going until next year, but after that there will be nothing left to meet expenses such as the cost of therapists and room bookings for groups like the Art Therapy Group, the Rosemary Group (for women with secondary cancers) and Breathing Space (see list below).

Ruth Porter, a psychotherapist and facilitator for the Rosemary Group, commented: “We know that many women benefit from being part of a group like this and we are always ready to welcome new members. Sometimes it’s easier to share your thoughts and experiences about cancer with other patients than with close family and friends.”

The Rosemary group meets at Mangreen Hall, near Norwich, for a varied programme of activities, from reflexology and relaxation skills to make-up and creative writing.

Celia Harmer joined the Rosemary Group recently after discovering that her breast cancer had come back after nine years: “Living with breast cancer is a rollercoaster and it’s great to meet people in the same situation, to get away from medical matters and to feel their support and encouragement. It would be a downhill ride for me if the Rosemary Group were to close.”

Notes for editors

The following groups are supervised by the breast care team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

* Art therapy group meets at the Big C Centre every Thursday morning, led by qualified art therapists.

* The Rosemary Group offers a programme of guest speakers and outings for women living with secondary cancer. Meets weekly at Mangreen Hall, near Norwich.

* Breast care volunteers Former patients who are trained to offer support and advice.

* Breathing space A six-week course in relaxation therapy, diet and stress awareness.

* Action after breast surgery Aqua-aerobics, badminton and yoga sessions held at the UEA Sportpark.

* Young Women’s Group Meets monthly at a venue of their choice.

* Life After breast Cancer An exercise and relaxation group that meets in Norwich each Friday morning.

* Sheringham Exercise and Relaxation Group Meets 2nd and 4th Thursday evenings at St Joseph’s Church Hall.

* Keeping Abreast gives women undergoing breast reconstruction a chance to see the results in other women and to talk about their experiences

* Look Good Feel Better Monthly skincare and make-up workshops at the Big C Centre, supported by the cosmetics industry.

Support and advice is also available at the Big C Centre at NNUH, funded by the Big C charity. The centre is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.  Tel: 01603 286112.

Tuesday 14th of October 2008 02:00:57 AM