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FOCUS on Survival

The FOCUS breast cancer support group at St. Luke's Hospital provides women with a forum to share stories, triumphs and challenges.

Every three minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news is, if detected early, breast cancer can often be treated effectively with surgery that preserves the breast. According to the National Breast Cancer Organization, five-year survival after treatment for localized breast cancer is 96.3 percent. Although encouraging, these statistics only address breast cancer in the physical sense - failing to take into account the mental toll that a breast cancer diagnosis can take on a woman and her loved ones. For many breast cancer patients, dealing with the mental aspect of the disease can be as stressful and overwhelming as the actual treatments. Fortunately, resources are available to patients who seek emotional and spiritual help.

Support groups are one of the best resources for breast cancer patients and their loved ones. St. Luke's Hospital offers FOCUS, a monthly, two-hour breast cancer support program, to breast cancer patients, their partners, families, friends and the interested public. The program gives those affected by breast cancer a chance to learn more about the disease and to share their experiences. The first hour of the program features a professional speaker, who offers the latest information in the field of breast cancer or shares tips about coping with the disease. Some past FOCUS program topics have included 'Facing Cancer as a Family,' 'Current Options in Breast Reconstruction,' Intimacy and Sexuality-The Best May Be Yet to Come,' and 'Depression: Physical or Psychological?' The second hour of the program is open for group discussion, which is facilitated by nurse counselor.

"For the past fifteen years, the FOCUS program has provided women with a safety net, giving them a chance to establish strong, supportive connections with other women who have been affected by breast cancer," said Lynn Stadnyk, RN, LPC, the Oncology Counselor at St. Luke's Hospital. "Some of our members are newly diagnosed, others are facing the challenge again, and some have been in remission for five to ten years or more. No matter where a woman is in relation to her disease, there is someone she can relate to, someone who can help guide her through the rough spots. It's a remarkable group."

Be certain to register to attend this month's program SURFIN' SAFARI: Journey Through the Internet Jungle on Sunday, October 19 from 7 to 9 p.m in the East Medical Building. Learn to surf the Internet for all the credible information on breast cancer or other topics you could possibly want. Read the latest news, locate support groups, learn about clinical trials, drugs, info on coping and emotional support, national networks, local resources, and much more. Learn tips and tricks to surf the web more effectively. Group sharing will follow this program. You will have an opportunity to discuss feelings, concerns and coping skills with others who have experienced breast cancer. The presenter is Sandy Petrillo, BA -
St Luke's Computer Trainer. For more information, call (314) 205-6292.

The FOCUS program is held from 7 to 9 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month. Registration is not necessary and all interested guests are welcome. For more information regarding St. Luke's Hospital's FOCUS Breast Cancer Support Group, call 314-205-6092. If you would like to be placed on FOCUS' mailing list, please call Lynn Stadnyk at 314-205-6292. St. Luke's invites you to be connected to your health.