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.
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.
Would you like to talk to someone who has had breast cancer?
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"
If a daytime support meeting doesn't work for you, from time to time we hold evening groups. These groups will usually have a topic of interest and a speaker. Check out our events page for upcoming dates, times and speakers.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Group
A coffee morning gathering for those with a secondary diagnosis. Facilitated by Natasha Greig-Merret, Oncology Social Worker and/or Ngaire Laker Metz, Support 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 or sometimes at a local café. Keep an eye on our Events page for the dates and times.
What Can Groups Offer?
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.
Evening Support Groups
Tuesday 8th May 5.45-7.15pm Shaun Holt will talk on Cancer and Complimentary medicine ; what's research based and what's not. @ 56 Christopher St.
RSVP by calling us at 07 5713346.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Support Group
Wednesday 2nd May, Starts 10.30 am @ BCSS Lounge, 56 Christopher St, Tauranga
Facilitators: Natasha Greig-Merritt and/or Ngaire Laker-Metz
@ BCSS Lounge, 56 Christopher St, Tauranga
Tuesday 1 May 5.30-7.30pm
Educator: Kath Vickers
gold coin donation please
Lunchtime Support Groups
Wednesday 18 April @ 56 Christopher St, Tauranga. Sue Furey will be telling us all about Pink Yoga.
Come along and meet up with others who are living with breast cancer in an informal and supportive environment. Lunch is provided.
Wednesday 16th May @ St Pauls Church Hall on 242 Dickson Rd, Papamoa
RSVP by calling us at 07 5713346
Mindfulness Workshops & Practice
'Mindfulness' is a term we hear used a lot these days. But what is it, how can we do it and what are the benefits?
The growing international research into the benefits of mindfulness shows that it leads to many positive changes. It can increase our ability to live with present moment, non-judgemental awareness. With practice over time mindfulness leads to:
- increased mental clarity and calm
- improved communication, concentration and attention
- reductions in stress, anxiety and depression
- greater resilience and emotional regulation
- improved general happiness and mental wellbeing
Teacher Natasha Rix is an inspiring mindfulness and mediation teacher with more than 17 years intensive training and practice and is Director of Mindful Living, based near Tauranga. She teaches in a pragmatic way, with humour and warmth, helping people from all backgrounds and life experiences to learn to meditate and live mindfully.
Mindfulness workshops are open to any of our clients. This year we are also offering mindfulness practice sessions for four weeks.These sessions are open to anyone who has done a mindfulness workshop either with us or elsewhere and is wanting to get into a regular practice habit.
Sunday 20th May 9-2pm @ 56 Christopher St
Sunday 4 November @56 Christopher St
Mindfulness Practice Sessions:
Tuesdays on 29 May, 5 June,12 June and 19 June.
Registration for workshops and practice sessions are essential. Please contact Ngaire or Gill on 07 5713346 to register.
A complimentary service designed to provide a 'helping hand' for those going through a difficult time.
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 Anne Opie, a qualified registered counsellor with more than 12 years counselling experience working with young people, families, couples and individuals. Anne has spent time working with issues around grief and loss, abuse and family relationships to name a few. Anne has experienced the impact of a cancer diagnosis first hand and is well placed to support and share your journey both safely and confidentially.
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.
A donation of $10 per session is requested for this service and there are evening appointments available as well as day time.
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.
Rest & Recovery
It can be a challenge just getting through the each day when you're in treatment. Our Rest & Recovery service offers those with breast cancer a chance to take a 3 night break, be with their families and rejuvenate in a peaceful setting.
We have a list of people who generously offer their holiday homes for this purpose and the service is free to our clients. If you would like to use this service please discuss with one of our Support Workers.
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.
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:
"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
When someone you love is diagnosed with breast cancer the most important thing you can do is listen.
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.