Circle of Support: Women With Cancer

The Cancer Resource Center at IU Health Simon Cancer Center recently introduced a new cancer support group for women.

They come from various walks of life. They are different ages. Some are newly diagnosed; others have been on their cancer journey for years. Some have shared their fears with family members; others have remained silent – that is until recently.

“I felt out of sorts when I got the news. I didn’t want to start treatment yet. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I wanted to get grounded first, get used to the idea,” said one women who recently learned she has endometrial cancer.

They are all survivors and they are coming together the first Monday of the month for a support group just for women.

“Cancer can make a person feel so alone, even if they have an abundance of love and support,” said women’s health nurse practitioner Tricia Grabinski, who facilitates the group along with social worker Maggie Sutterfield. “My hope for this group is to provide a comforting environment where women in different stages of their journey can share their fears, frustrations, and challenges with other women who understand and empathize. They can embrace each other and help each other cope and adjust. Ultimately, I hope to expand this to include a peer mentoring program to form bonds between women with similar circumstances.”

The first night was spent getting acquainted and acknowledging commonalities – the fear of losing hair during chemotherapy, the lack of energy, the loss of appetites, and the reactions from family, friends and strangers. They’ve heard the diagnosis of cervical cancer, leukemia, lung and ovarian cancer. Most are surrounded by networks of providers and protectors. But still they are searching for the understanding that comes directly from those who are on similar journeys.

“This is my fourth time with cancer. The first time was when I was pregnant with my daughter,” said JoNell Stevenson, Carmel. “Early on I found another woman who provided great support. Later when I had a stem cell transplant another woman came into my life. It is true; your circle of support comes in all forms. I am looking forward to this group.”

The next Women’s Cancer Support Group will meet Feb. 4. Dinner and registration is from 5-6 p.m. The group meets from 6-7:30 p.m. in the first floor of IU Health Simon Cancer Center.

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
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