HCN News & Notes

Supportive Gatherings Aim to Help People Experiencing a Cancer Diagnosis

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Though it can seem overwhelming to talk about one’s personal situation with others, the Cancer House of Hope knows how important it can be to have the support of others who are facing similar situations. That’s why the center presents organized, facilitated, supportive gatherings to help people experiencing a cancer diagnosis, as well as their family and friends.

At the Cancer House of Hope, support gatherings are informal, confidential, and personalized. They provide those participating with the opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback specific to them. Gatherings are run in a small-group setting, allowing members to speak with and learn from others going through similar circumstances.

Kaileen Russell leads two supportive gatherings at Cancer House of Hope: All Cancers and Family & Friends. Russell earned her master’s degree in social work at Springfield College. She takes a body, mind, and spirit approach to her therapeutic work and strongly encourages self-care in each area.

The All Cancers supportive gathering meets the first, third, and fifth Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. Family & Friends meets the second and fourth Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. All gatherings take place at Cancer House of Hope, 1999 Westfield St., West Springfield. There is no charge to attend. First-time participants are encouraged to call (413) 733-1858 in advance of their initial visit.

“While we address the painfulness and complexities of the cancer experience, people find comfort, camaraderie, and emotional relief in talking, listening, and sharing with others,” said Joe Kane, program director for CHD Cancer House of Hope. “A supportive gathering can help you feel a little more hopeful about your diagnosis, more connected, and better understood. What’s it like to have a mastectomy? Find out from a woman who’s had the procedure. How can you help your father understand and live with his cancer diagnosis? Ask the man who is helping his own father with just that issue. Can a wig really help you feel better about yourself after chemotherapy? Maybe you didn’t realize that woman at the gathering is wearing a wig now. How do others feel about Reiki or massage therapy for cancer patients? Ask people who receive these services at Cancer House of Hope what it does for them. Or just listen to what others have to say. It’s all informal and confidential.”

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