Cancer Support Groups and Resources
Find a support group, speak to someone, let your feelings out, your fears, and just take it day by day ...I have come across a lot of people that are having breast cancer or had it. It's good for me to speak with them and to relate and to let ‘em know that there is life after cancer ... Life does get better.
Martha Red Willow - Oglala Sioux
Sharing feelings / Sharing the Experience
Support groups are very helpful to both the cancer patient and to the family and loved one of a cancer patient. There are many ways to work with support groups. Mary P. Lovato (bone cancer survivor; Santo Domingo Pueblo) coordinates and directs the largest Native American cancer support program in Indian Country. She provides trainings about twice each year and occasionally travels to the tribe or community to help train people there to run and operate their own support program. Mary has a toll-free number of 1- 877-771-8888.
Through the National Native American Cancer Survivors' Support Network, telephone support is available with other Native cancer survivors living in the North American continent. Mary can also connect you to these programs by calling the toll free number. Native American Cancer Initiatives (NACI) can also connect you to these services by calling 1-303-838-9359.
The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Cancer Information Service (CIS) can usually help you find a local cancer survivors' support group. Dial 1-800-4-CANCER. The National Cancer Institute's Comprehensive Cancer Centers may be able to refer you to local cancer survivorship programs. There are over 20 such centers in the U.S. The CIS can provide regional contact information. These Centers are also involved in clinical trials and can answer questions about the patient or the family members' (especially "first degree relatives" like parents, children or siblings of cancer patients) eligibility for participation in a cancer trial .... typically free of cost.
The NCI also has an Office of Cancer Survivorship which can provide referral information for both cancer patients and their loved ones.
The National Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation also provides a toll free help line for both the cancer patient and for loved ones. Their number is: 1 (800) IM AWARE.
The National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO) also provides counseling and referral information at 212-719-0154 or through the Internet at http://www.pmedia.com/avon.html
Y-Me for breast cancer hotline counseling, information and/or screening availability at 1-800-221- 2141.
Cancer Care, Inc. provides multiple resources, including information on support programs ....Their contact number is 1-800-813-HOPE.
The American Cancer Society has a variety of support programs, including Reach for Recovery and cancer survivors' support groups. Call your local American Cancer Society office for group meeting dates and times.
Organized Religions for Spiritual Healing
DEFINITION: "Spirituality" Spirituality can be defined as a belief system focusing on intangible elements that impart vitality and meaning to life's events. (MauganTA. The spiritual history. Arch Fam Med 1996:5:11-16.) Spirituality is expressed through formal religion (e.g., Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Buddhist), traditional Indian medicine, and other ways.
Many Native American patients are active within formal religious organizations. Common religions among Native peoples include the Native American Church, Catholic, Mormon, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, and occasionally Buddhist or Jewish. The minister or priest should be informed of the cancer diagnosis. Special support services are available from most churches, including the delivery of taped sermons for the patient who isn't well enough to attend church services ("shut-in" programs), meal preparation and delivery, home cleaning services, and so on. Most churches will also have special announcements to the congregation requesting their prayers for rapid and full recovery. Some will also have religious services specifically for the patient and her family.
The church can also provide spiritual support for the family members and loved ones of the cancer patient. Personalized counseling is available to help you and others deal with your own emotions and spiritual issues related to the cancer diagnosis.
Traditional Indian Healing
DEFINITION: "Traditional Indian Medicine" Traditional Indian Medicine varies by each tribe and the tribal belief systems, rituals and practices. According to Dr. Walt Hallow, the medicine man or woman is a catalyst to healing and spends as much time as needed to help restore harmony and health. Healing ceremonies and practices usually will include family members, who are considered integral to the healing process and are the patient's primary support system. The medicine is in part natural and empirical and in part supernatural and spiritual. Traditional Indian medicine emphasizes the patient's own power to restore good health. The Traditional healer dos not do the healing but assist as individuals in healing themselves. (Hollow W.B. Chapter 6: Traditional Indian Medicine. In Galloway James M., Goldberg Bruce W, and Alpert Joseph S. Primary Care of Native American Patients: Diagnosis, Therapy, and Epidemiology. Butterworth and Heinemann. Boston, MA. 1999. pp. 31-38.