Launceston Breast Cancer Support Group was formed 13 years ago by a small group of women who met during treatment. Under the guidance of founder Pauline Watson, what began in a member’s home as a social morning tea grew into a formal group with a focus on supporting women diagnosed with breast cancer. Group leader Mandy Forteath shares some of the ways the group supports women in the local community.
Since our establishment in 2004, a steady increase in members has continued, and there are now regularly 25 women at each meeting. Members do not need to attend every meeting, but may come and go as they need. We feel that we are there for all who are diagnosed with breast cancer, and do not put pressure on members to attend regularly, although many do. If a woman comes once, gets something out of it and then feels that she does not want to attend again, that is fine – we don’t chase her up.
We attribute our success to our group agreement, which helps contribute to smooth running of the group by ensuring members know what to expect from the group and its meetings.
The group meets on the first Tuesday of the month in the Launceston Cancer Council building. We have a mixture of morning and evening meetings with no formalities. Each meeting finishes with time to share a cuppa and chat.
Between meetings, group members may receive emails with information about events and new resources from organisations such as BCNA, Cancer Council and McGrath Foundation. We also have a Facebook page called Launceston Breast Cancer Network.
A range of guest speakers visits the group. Recent examples include a specialist mammogram radiologist, a skin specialist (who discussed taking care of skin during radiation and chemotherapy), a reflexology practitioner, a colour therapist, a dietitian and a representative from Amoena (who spoke about their range of external prostheses, bras and scarves).
Meetings without guest speakers provide an opportunity for members to discuss issues of interest to them. Recent examples include ‘canceritis’, and post-traumatic stress disorder and breast cancer.
These meetings are very well received and members have time to voice their concerns.
Relevant resources such as those from BCNA and Cancer Council are made available. Local breast care nurses attend some meetings, as well as support staff from Cancer Council Tasmania.
Special events such as a colouring-in night and a pizza and pudding night provide opportunities to share and connect. So too does involvement with the Relay for Life Cancer Council team.
Every year, we hold a Mini-Field of Women for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a December Christmas luncheon.
This December marks the 30th year that the local Motorcycle Riders Association has held an annual ride to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer.
Three hundred riders are expected to participate this year, dressed in pink, with Pink Ladies displayed. The event will finish with a Mini-Field of Women, concert and barbecue.
If you would like to join Launceston Breast Cancer Support Group, contact Mandy on (03) 6331 7905 or email email@example.com.