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Local breast cancer group offers support and information

Discussion ranges from combating fatigue while undergoing treatment to keeping your body active through dance steps taught at the meeting
20180108 Breast Cancer Support Group KA
Women in a support group for breast cancer survivors pose for a photo at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday

Since 1992 the Guelph and Wellington Breast Cancer Support Group has been providing women diagnosed with breast cancer a place of community and support.

Karen Richardson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994, and has been in the group for the last 24 years. Richardson now volunteers as one of four leaders that run and organize the support group.

Richardson said that the once monthly meetings include a combination of sharing meetings and guest speaker nights. The sharing meetings are evenings where women have the opportunity to share, ask questions, and offer and receive support. The speaker nights involve a speaker who discusses a topic that may be of particular interest to the women.

Speakers have come in to speak about a variety of topics, from combating fatigue while undergoing treatment, to keeping your body active through dance steps that were taught at the meeting.

Richardson said that there are about 27 active members, and 40 members that are on their email list. Most nights around a dozen women will gather for the Monday night group.

The group is anonymous, and information is only shared if the member gives permission, confirmed Richardson.

Cathy McCallum is new to the group and assists as a facilitator. She brings lived experience as a cancer survivor and facilitator in another community and does peer support for the Canadian Cancer Society.

She believes in people talking to each other. "When you give and receive support, you live longer," McCallum said.
The group is open to anyone, regardless of the stage they are at in their breast cancer journey. Women come to the group from Guelph and surrounding areas, including Rockwood, Fergus, Waterloo and Kitchener.

The Breast Cancer Support Group has become a place for women to share things that they may not be able to share other places. Women are able to offer information and tips, and the group becomes a community, said Richardson.

“I’m probably the longest member, but there’s a few that have come out for eight to 10 years. You care about the women,” Richardson said.

Guelph and Wellington Breast Cancer Support Group is a free group and is not affiliated with any other groups. The group has its own charitable donation status, said Richardson.

The once monthly evening group meets every second Monday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at 161 Norfolk St.

There is also a daytime group that meets the fourth Monday of every month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Starberry Cafe.

To find out more visit the community link information here.