Oxenford Bosom Buddies is a social group that meets on the Gold Coast. The group combines friendship and emotional support with information and practical advice. Group leader and founder Lee Seery shares how the group began and how it provides support to the local community.

After my breast cancer diagnosis in 2011, I felt I could give support and encouragement to others. I trained as a BCNA Community Liaison in April 2013 and attended BCNA’s National Summit in Sydney later that year. When I returned home, I decided to start a support group in Oxenford.

Our group meets for two hours on the first Thursday of every month at Oxenford and Coomera Community and Youth Centre. We can get up to 26 members at a meeting.

People who came to the first meeting three-and-a-half years ago still attend, so something must work for them. We also have new members joining.

It’s a happy and upbeat group, with members of all ages, from women in their 30s to others in their 70s and beyond.

The group is very relaxed, with very little structure, as we find people are more inclined to talk and join in if there aren’t many restrictions. This approach isn’t for all support groups, but it works really well for us. After each meeting, many of the members then go out to lunch together.

We welcome anyone diagnosed with any type of cancer, as well as their families, carers, friends and supporters.

The group offers friendship and emotional support from others with a personal experience of cancer. Members also share tips and insights from their own cancer experience to help those who are newly diagnosed.

We have a guest speaker every month, such as a breast care nurse, a surgeon, a yoga instructor and a bra fitter.

I believe that peer support is invaluable after a breast cancer diagnosis, when people can feel isolated, alone and scared.

I remember one day when an older woman arrived at our group and sat very quietly with her handbag on her lap, her head down, and she didn’t speak.

I gently asked if she would like to share her story and, without any eye contact, she said she had just arrived on the coast, didn’t have any friends and her husband didn’t understand – she was very alone.

A few years later, this same woman is one of the first to arrive at our meetings, joins in, asks questions of the guest speakers, goes out to lunch with other members and is a terrific group member (and her handbag is no longer on her lap). She arrived friendless, but now has friends who understand what she went through.

Without being obvious and intrusive, the group was able to encourage her to talk. I believe talking is an extremely important part of the recovery process.

Support groups allow people to talk without judgement and provide a sense of belonging.

We are lucky to have the support of our local community. Our local Bakers Delight bakery supplies our morning tea for every meeting at no cost to the group.

The community centre where we meet provides the room at no charge. They even set up the chairs and tables for us and supply the tea and coffee.

If you would like to join Oxenford Bosom Buddies please phone Lee on 0439 754 180 or email lee@nullcatsrule.com.au.

Issue 79
Winter 2017