How Can We Help?

For many people upon hearing the diagnosis of cancer, their first thought is, “Will I die?” And for those who have just heard they have breast cancer, the next question in their mind may be, “Will I lose my breast?”  While most women don’t die from breast cancer, and most don’t lose a breast, these remain major fears.

As with any life-threatening illness, most women will experience an initial feeling of shock and this can be accompanied by both denial and anger. It is important to allow time at this stage to let these emotions happen – they are a perfectly normal response to a stressful situation. A diagnosis of breast cancer has been likened to stepping on a rollercoaster and not being able to get off. Other feelings may surface – anxiety, guilt, sadness, loneliness, a loss of control.

Talking about your feelings can be difficult. However, it may help you to accept the diagnosis and cope with those ups and downs during the journey ahead. Sometimes talking to friends and family is not enough and you may want to talk to other health professionals such as nursing staff, a social worker, a counsellor, a support group member or a pastoral care worker.

If you find it difficult to talk, try keeping a journal. Writing is a good way to sort out feelings and start dealing with them. Emailing or keeping in touch by texting can be a good way of sharing without talking. Find a way that is right for you. In dealing with your fears and feelings, be patient with yourself. Remember that healing, both physical and emotional, takes time.

Individual support

Would you like to talk to someone who has had breast cancer?

Breast Cancer Support Service Buddies are all women who have coped with breast cancer. They understand the fears and feelings that come with a breast cancer diagnosis, they've been through it themselves. They are here to help you successfully navigate the journey by offering practical and emotional support, hope and encouragement and information.

Our Buddies do not offer medical or treatment advice and we always recommend in the first instance to seek such information from your medical team but we can listen and have a weatlh of information about resources available to you.

Breast Cancer Support Service Buddys can give you a call, meet for coffee or come to an appointment with you - the amount of contact is really up to you and your Support Buddy to decide. Some of our buddys and the people they support have become strong friends.

"aroha ki te tangata"

-speaks of respect and regard for others

Group Gatherings

Support Lunches

Over lunch, exchange stories, information and lots of laughter! We often have a speaker relating either to breast cancer or wellbeing. Come for lunch at 56 Christopher Street on the third Wednesday of each month . Every third month the lunch is at St Paul's Church, Dickson Road, Papamoa. Check out our events page for upcoming dates and speakers.

Evening Support Group

If a daytime support meeting doesn't work for you, come to our evening support group. Similarly to our support lunches, this is an opportunity to get together with others who are living with breast cancer over a light supper. This group will also sometimes include a speaker and is held on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Check out our events page for upcoming dates, times and speakers.

Lymphoedema Education

Physiotherapist and Lymphoedema Therapist Kath Vickers provides education, exercises and support on the prevention and management of Lymphoedema. Refer to our Events page for information on the next Lymphoedema Education Session.

Metastatic Breast Cancer Group

A coffee morning gathering for those with a secondary diagnosis. Facilitated by Natasha Greig-Merret, Oncology Social Worker, come to chat with each other and share stories, feelings and fears...or not, you can just come along and listen too. This group meets monthly in the Breast Cancer Support Service Lounge. Keep an eye on our Events page for the dates and times.

Metastatic Social Group

Through the 'Meet Up' website we host a social group for those with metastatic breast cancer. We go for coffee, take a walk together and sometimes catch a movie. Anyone with metastatic breast cancer is welcome to join us. Click here to find out more.

"It's not a pity party." Fiona McAllister, Breast Cancer Survivor

Groups provide an opportunity for those with a present or past breast cancer diagnosis to meet in an informal environment for mutual support and encouragement. We often have speakers that can share their expertise in various areas, not limited to breast cancer topics. Even if you have great support from family and friends, keeping in touch with a group of people who are also living with breast cancer adds a different perspective and gives you the opportunity to talk openly without feeling like you may upset your loved ones. There are several opportunities to get involved and meet others who are, or have been, on the Breast Cancer journey:

Whats On

Evening Support Groups

Tuesday 14th November 5.45-7.15pm Menopause - the untold story.  Wendy Sweet, Director of the My Menopause Transformation Programme will speak about menopause with a focus on breast cancer and menopause @ 56 Christopher St.

RSVP by calling us at 07 5713346.

Metastatic Breast Cancer Support Group

Starts 10.30 am @ BCSS Lounge, 56 Christopher St, Tauranga

Wednesday 1st November 2017

Wednesday 6th December 2017

Facilitators: Natasha Greig-Merritt and Ngaire Laker-Metz

Lymphoedema Education

@ BCSS Lounge, 56 Christopher St, Tauranga

Tuesday 5th December 5.30pm-7.30pm

Educator: Kath Vickers

gold coin donation please

Lunchtime Support Groups

Starts 11.30am

Wednesday 15th November @ 56 Christopher St.  Rachel van der Gugten is a nutritional therapist who is now working in Tauranga after working previously in Switzerland.  She has a practical focus on getting to the bottom of what really constitutes healthy eating and has a focus on lower therapeutic diets and return to more traditional pre-industrial diet as a way of treating a wide range of modern diseases which have been on the increase since the 1990s.

RSVP by calling us at 07 5713346

December is Xmas Mocktails time

Everyone is invited to join us for our xmas end of year celebration on 13th December at 4-6pm @ 56 Christopher St.  Please RSVP for catering purposes on 07 571 3346 or email us

Helping Hands

A complimentary service designed to provide a 'helping hand' for those going through a difficult time.

Helping Hands offers a free service to those in the Western Bay of Plenty area who are either recently diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing treatment (up to 12 months post-diagnosis) or to those who have metastatic breast cancer. It is available to alleviate some of the stress that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis for those who are experiencing financial hardship.

Please note that the services provided by Helping Hands should not take the place of any services that may qualify for a WINZ allowance. To find out more about Helping Hands call us on 07 571 3346 or email us.


Exploring and understanding what's happening in your life

Counseling offers an opportunity to talk to someone who will listen without criticism, and who will keep what you say confidential. Coming to counselling does not mean that you are 'crazy', rather that you have decided to explore new ways of dealing with what life is offering you.

Our Counsellor is Michelle Burling, a qualified registered counsellor with more than 3 years counselling experience (including two years as a student counsellor with us back in 2014-15. We loved having Michelle as part of the team back then - so much so that when we were looking to contract a qualified and experienced counsellor Michelle was our first choice!

A donation of $10 per session is requested for this service and there are evening appointments available as well as day time.

Michelle - Our Counsellor

Michelle - Our Counsellor

A counselling session may last up to an hour. Sometimes one session is all that is required, some people come for more regular sessions and sometimes they may have long periods between sessions. You can email the Service Support Team to make an appointment or to discuss your support options or call on 07 571 3346.

Dinner delivery

When you have just had surgery or are in the middle of treatment, the thought of preparing a meal can be uninspiring and even daunting. Where to find the energy or the appetite? Thanks to ANZ Staff who have filled our freezer with meals, we can offer you a dinner delivery during that time. Your meal comes frozen so you can choose when to use it and you can pick up or we deliver to you.


Gentle massage can be a good way to help ease stress and anxiety while you are coming to terms with having a breast cancer diagnosis and for some it is an effective way to relieve pain. Hands to Heal delivers oncology massage for our clients on Tuesday Mornings. If you would like an appointment just contact us.

A donation of $10 per session is requested for this service.

Lending Library

Sometimes it's hard to absorb all the information being given at the time of your diagnosis, as you may feel overwhelmed by everything happening.

Don't worry, we have a Resource Room bulging with information brochures and a complimentary library for your use.

The comprehensive library features books both informational and inspirational, written by both medical professionals and breast cancer survivors. Books cover a range of topics from diagnosis to recovery, how to tell the kids, how to tell your friends, from complementary therapies to embracing life. Feel free to come along and see if there is something that answers your questions, inspires you or gives you focus.

A sample of the books available:

"Recovering From Breast Surgery - Exercises to strengthen your body and relieve pain" - Diana Stumm

"Sink or Swim - when life becomes precious, you don't waste a moment" - Shelley Hanna

"Why I wore lipstick to my mastectomy" - Geralyn Lucas

"I am not my Breast Cancer - women talk openly about love and sex, hair loss and weight gain, mothers and daughters, and being a woman with Breast Cancer" - Ruth Peltason

"Healing foods" - Miriam Polunin

"Can I Still Kiss You? - Answering Your Children's Questions About Cancer" - Neil Russell

"My Mum's Got Cancer" - Dr Lucy Blunt

"The Breast Cancer Survivors Fitness Plan" - Carolyn M Kaelin, M.D., M.P.H.

"Fighting For Our Future - How Young Women Find Strength, Hope, and Courage While Taking Control of Breast Cancer" - Beth Murphy

"Your Life In Your Hands - Understanding, Preventing and Overcoming Breast Cancer" - Professor Jane Plant

Our Support Workers know our library well and can help you to find what you are looking for

Andrea Fairbairn is a NZ writer and has had breast cancer twice

" I wrote this Ebook focusing on survival for survivors. It describes what breast cancer survival is really like and some of the best ways to get through it. I wanted to provide some simplicity and inspiration as well as practical tips to help survivors find their footing once more and hopefully make life easier. I believe in not just surviving but celebrating life."
-Andrea Fairbairn

Supporting Others

When someone you love is diagnosed with breast cancer the most important thing you can do is listen.

Listen carefully to what your relative or friend says so you can understand what they want and need. You will need to overcome your worries and fears and treat them normally. Remember they are still the same person but they now need extra support, especially during periods of medical treatment and hospital stays. How you react can make a big difference in the way they cope with this news.

The first time you see them after hearing about the cancer is often the most difficult. Don't ignore the illness. Acknowledge it and let them talk about their concerns if they want to. You may find it helps you be more understanding if you know a little about the type of cancer and the treatment involved. People with cancer often have big mood swings. It can take several months to adjust to a diagnosis, so be prepared for changes in behaviour. Don't let their bad days put you off - keep in touch!

  • Listen - everyone reacts differently. Some will want to talk about it, some will want to talk about anything but the diagnosis. Listen for what they want and don't be afraid to ask what they'd like to do.
  • Attend - offer to go with your friend to appointments or treatments. Often there will be a lot of information for a patient to absorb and it is hard when your head is spinning. A friend focusing on the information may help to pass it on later.
  • Chores - Fold the washing, do the vacuuming, mow the lawn, weed the garden, take the children to school, prepare a meal, but do it without making them feel inadequate.
  • Be specific - asking for help is not easy. So when a friend says, "Whatever you need, just give me a call", it's hard for someone to make that call. It's better to be specific and ask, When would you like me to come over and help with some of the chores - Tuesday or Thursday?"
  • Family - don't forget that the person's family will be going through a lot of emotions and changes in their routines as well. They will need support too.


Will using your services cost me anything?

No, we do not charge for our services, although for some activities we may ask for a small donation. We rely on donations from the public, sponsors, grants from trusts and special events to support our free support and education programmes.

Will I be dealing with people who have actually experienced breast cancer?

Breast Cancer Support Service Support Workers and Buddies are all people living with breast cancer. They understand the fears and feelings that come with a breast cancer diagnosis; they've been through it themselves. They are there to help you successfully navigate the journey by offering practical and emotional support, hope and encouragement and information.

Are you a branch of the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation?

No, Breast Cancer Support Services Tauranga Trust is an independent charitable trust. We do not receive funding from Government, New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation or the Cancer Society. We rely on donations from the public, sponsors, grants from trusts and special events to support our free support and education programmes. All money donated to us stays local – we provide local support services for local people with a breast cancer diagnosis.

Are donations to Breast Cancer Support Tauranga tax deductible?

Yes, we are a registered charity. If you would like to donate, just remember that no amount is too small, every dollar counts and we appreciate all donations! All donations of $5.00 or more are receipted and are eligible for a tax deduction.

Do I have to come to your office?

You are welcome to come to our office or talk with a Support Worker on the phone.

Are you government funded?

No, Breast Cancer Support Services Tauranga Trust is an independent charitable trust. We do not receive funding from Government, NZ Breast Cancer Foundation or the Cancer Society.

What might a support buddy offer?

Breast Cancer Support Service Buddys can give you a call, meet you for coffee or come to an appointment with you - the amount of contact is really up to you and your visitor to decide.

I want to help raise some money to help you to support local people with breast cancer - how can I do that?

Fantastic, you can help us at one of our fundraising events or feel free to hold your own fundraising event. Holding a fundraising event will not only help us financially but it will also help us achieve one of our objectives of increased awareness and education. Whether you want to host with friends, at work or school, Breast Cancer Support Service Tauranga Trust welcomes your support! Your event can be as simple or as creative as you want. You could encourage your work to have a pink breakfast, a pink mufti day, sell pink muffins, hold a quiz night, or host a girls' night in, - the options are endless. Give us a call at the office if you'd like some help with ideas!

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