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Cancer

Cancer Support Services

A diagnosis of cancer can be a life-altering experience that affects patients and their loved ones in many ways. The Cancer Care Center supports patients during all aspects of their care—from diagnosis through treatment and recovery. The Cancer Support Services Program is dedicated to providing patients and their loved ones with a comprehensive set of services that address a wide range of needs. Services include:

  • Cancer support/discussion groups
  • Support activities
  • Special programs and events
  • Complementary services
  • Patient Navigators
  • Social Workers
  • Nutritionists
  • Genetic Counseling

For a full list of offerings, view a copy of the most recent quarterly newsletter and event calendar.

Cancer Survivorship Program

Boston Medical Center's Cancer Survivorship Program is here to support patients throughout their continuum of care.

Offering a comprehensive array of support groups, workshops, lectures and activities designed with patients in mind, the Center’s trained staff offers emotional support, provides education about treatments and clinical trials, and assists patients in finding resources to help with transportation, child care, and insurance challenges.

Cancer Support/Discussion Groups

For current patients and long-term survivors alike, support/discussion groups offer a unique opportunity to get to know people who have all undergone cancer experiences similar to theirs. In this safe and confidential environment, people discuss details of their experience, ask questions, and offer knowledge and insight that doctors usually cannot provide. They understand one another’s fears, concerns, hopes, and triumphs. Sincere listening, laughing, support, encouragement, and uplifting energy are the norm. Sometimes, a doctor or specialist is invited to give information on treatments and self-care, but the heart of the group is always patients talking to patients. Generally, what is gained in these groups can seldom be found elsewhere.

  • Groups are open to anyone with cancer, regardless of where treated.
  • Registration is not required, but it’s best to call ahead to inform the staff and to obtain any additional information.
  • Family members and friends are welcome (though men only to the men’s groups, women only to the women’s groups).
  • Most groups meet monthly. (The Amyloidosis Support/Discussion Group meets weekly, as does the Bereavement Group, when in session.)
  • Food and free parking are provided.

Why Attend a Support/Discussion Group?

When people get together with others having similar experiences, they find:

  • Sincere listening and understanding
  • Answers, hope, and encouragement
  • Opportunities to be helpful
  • Opportunities to laugh
  • Opportunities to form new friendships

Support/Discussion Groups – by Cancer Type

Blood Cancer

2nd Thursday of the month, 6:00-8:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

All cancers that originate in the blood or bone marrow—leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and their various types and subtypes—are included in this support group. It is open to adult patients who have or have had acute and chronic leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and myeloproliferative disorders. While these diseases affect the blood cells in different ways, there are similarities in how they cause one to feel and how they are treated. The group provides participants with the opportunity to share and compare their experiences. As blood cancers affect a wide range of ages, the group is open to adult survivors of any age and their family members and supporters. Typically 6 to 12 participate in any given meeting, and there tends to be a family-type camaraderie. Dinner is provided, as well as parking validation and limited assistance with transportation home.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, MA Chapter, helps BMC promote this group, as it is the only blood cancer support group in the immediate Boston area. Those treated at any institution are welcome to attend.

Breast Cancer

1st Tuesday of the month, 6:00-7:30pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Open to women who have ever been diagnosed with breast cancer, regardless of where they may have been treated. Female family and supporters are welcome. Generally a diverse group of 10 to 16 women gather to share their experiences and concerns, ask questions, laugh, support, and encourage one another. Sometimes a doctor or specialist is invited in to present and reply to questions. The coordinator of Cancer Support Services comes in for the final minutes of the meeting to discuss upcoming program offerings, as members of this group also tend to involve themselves in other support activities. Dinner is provided, as well as parking validation and limited assistance with transportation home.

Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer

1st Thursday of the month, 12:00-2:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

A support group for people who have experienced cancer in one of the organs involved in the digestion and elimination of food—the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, large intestine (colon), small intestine, rectum, or anus. Participants share experiences and information and offer hope, encouragement, and support to one another. Family and supporters are welcome. Lunch and parking validation are provided. Generally 6 to 12 people attend the meeting.

Head/Neck Cancer

1st Wednesday of the month, 12:00-2:00pm
Moakley Lower Level Conference Room

Survivors up to 15 years past treatment, as well as those facing or currently in treatment for any type of cancer of the head or neck, attend this very supportive group. A strong core group of attendees continue to exchange information, thoughts, and feelings around the cancer they have experienced and offer counsel and support to those early in their journey. Participants find this meeting the one place others fully understand the long-lasting side effects they must often contend with on a daily basis. Doctors and other specialists periodically give presentations and answer questions. Lunch and parking validation are provided. Open to those diagnosed or treated at any institution. Group size is usually 6 to 12.

Lung Cancer

4th Thursday of the month, 12:00-2:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Open to men and women who have been diagnosed with lung cancer and are facing treatment, receiving treatment, or in remission. Family and supporters are welcome. Usually 6 to 12 attend to update one another on their conditions and share information, hope, and encouragement. Lunch and parking validation are provided.

Ovarian Cancer

3rd Wednesday of the month, 6:00-8:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

An opportunity for women diagnosed with, undergoing, or past treatment for ovarian cancer to meet, discuss common issues, and gain strength from one another. The support group provides patients with an alternative source of support and helps patients to cope with their cancer diagnosis. This group also enjoys a variety of activities and special presentations that promote health in mind, body, and spirit, including massage therapy, arts and crafts, acupuncture, and more. One participant commented, “Spending time with women who know what I’m going through is empowering. It is our own special place and time to be ourselves without judgment.” Generally 6 to 12 women attend the meeting. Female family and supporters are welcome. Dinner, parking validation, and limited assistance with transportation home are provided.

Prostate Cancer

2nd Tuesday of the month, 6:00-8:00pm
Yawkey Lobby Conference Room

A group for men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, are in or past treatment for it, or just want to learn more about this common cancer. If your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level is high or rising, or you are facing a biopsy or recently had one done, this is a great opportunity to hear survivors speak frankly about their experiences with the various treatment options and the side effects these treatments may cause. The conversation is informal and confidential. Periodically a physician comes to present information and answer questions, but mostly it is men talking candidly to one another. Generally 10 to 15 attend the meeting. Male family and supporters are welcome. Dinner and parking validation are provided.

Amyloidosis

(A protein disease similar in effect and treatment to cancer)
Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Discussion and information-sharing on the challenges that accompany amyloidosis diagnosis and treatment. An opportunity for patients and family members to share experiences, hear from other amyloidosis patients, ask questions, and gain some insight and help on navigating the logistics and the physical and emotional effects of the disease and its treatment.

Support/Discussion Groups - by Patient Population

Haitian Creole-Speaking

4th Thursday of the month, 6:00-8:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Open to Haitian men and women who have experienced any type of cancer and their family members and supporters. It’s an opportunity to meet, discuss common issues around cancer and its effects, and gain strength from one another as survivors living in the Boston area. Generally 10 to 16 attend the meeting. Dinner, parking validation, and limited assistance with transportation home are provided.

Note: A spirituality session for Haitians precedes each meeting from 5:30-5:50pm.

Spanish-Speaking

Last Tuesday of the month, 6:00-8:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Open to Latino men and women who have experienced any type of cancer and their family members and supporters. It’s an opportunity to meet, discuss common issues around cancer and its effects, and gain strength from one another as survivors living in the Boston area. Generally 6 to 12 attend the meeting. Dinner, parking validation, and limited assistance with transportation home are provided.

Cancer Support for Men

4th Monday of the month, 12:00-2:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Open to men who have experienced any type of cancer and their male family members and supporters. An opportunity to discuss cancer diagnoses, treatment, post-treatment, and lifestyle concerns. There is always an adjustment to this new terrain, and it’s good to talk about it. Participants learn from one another and help one another in the process. Generally 6 to 10 attend the meeting. Lunch and parking validation are provided.

Cancer Support for Women

2nd Monday of the month, 10:00-11:00am
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

A small group for women who have experienced any type of cancer. Female family members and supporters are welcome. The group provides an opportunity to check in with one another and discuss cancer diagnoses, treatment, post-treatment, and lifestyle concerns. Participants learn from, support, and encourage each other. Generally 4 to 6 attend the meeting. Continental breakfast and parking validation are provided.

Younger Women with Cancer

2nd Tuesday of the month, 6:00-7:30pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room
An intimate group for women (generally 42 years old or younger) who have experienced any type of cancer. Balancing work, family, relationships, and other important health and lifestyle concerns can be a challenge. This is an opportunity for participants to share, listen, discuss, ask questions, support, and encourage one another as they adjust to changes in their lives. Some sessions focus on certain pertinent topics. Dinner and parking validation are provided.

General Support/Discussion Groups

Family and Caregiver Groups

1st Monday of the month, 11:00am-12:30pm
-AND -
2nd Thursday of the month, 10:30am-12:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Cancer affects everyone in the immediate family, and rarely do people on the outside appreciate how challenging day-to-day life can be for the primary caregiver. It is common for stress and frustration to build in the home while a cancer patient endures the effects of cancer and its treatment. The primary caregiver carries the burden of both a lot of physical work and recurring emotional backlash, often without adequate support for him- or herself. These small group sessions present an opportunity to acknowledge the difficulty of being a caregiver and to share experiences and understanding with others who are doing the same. Often caregivers leave with helpful tips and strategies to make the journey a little easier.

Note: Patients themselves should not attend.

Spirituality

1st Tuesday of the month, 3:00-4:30pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Open to all cancer survivors and their supporters, regardless of spiritual or religious orientation. The group provides an opportunity to examine and discuss the cancer journey, as well as other significant life issues, from a spiritual perspective. Participants often share experiences and pose questions for reflection and feedback. Generally 8 to 12 attend. Snacks and parking validation are provided.

Bereavement

Eight-week closed sessions run generally twice a year. Call for info and upcoming dates.

BMC does its best to help sustain the lives of all those who enter its doors afflicted with cancer. The battle is often long and hard, sometimes successful and sometimes not. The BMC cancer care team recognizes the significant burden of grief that family members are left to carry when their loved ones pass. This grief can take twists and turns and affect people in different ways at different times. Everyone copes in his or her own way, yet it is often helpful to hear and share with others who have also been through this difficult journey. BMC periodically offers a Bereavement Group to provide certain support to those who would like help in coping with their loss.

For more information, contact our office at 617.638.7540 or [email protected].

Support Activities

Cancer Support Services offers ongoing support activities that speak to the interests of many cancer survivors. People get to know one another in the context of recreational activities, where they can converse and relate informally. Cancer, survivors may say, is only a part of their experience.

  • Groups are open to anyone with cancer, regardless of where treated.
  • Registration is not required, but it’s best to call ahead to inform the staff and to obtain any additional information.
  • Family members and friends are welcome.
  • Free parking is provided for most groups.

Healthy Steps (The Lebed Method)

1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month, 4:30-5:30pm
Moakley Lower Level Waiting Room

Healthy Steps improves the physical and emotional well-being of adults with cancer and other chronic diseases. The goal is to elevate the quality of life of each participant using music, therapeutic exercise, and movement; healing the body, mind, and spirit. Parking validation is provided.

Qigong / Tai Chi

Wednesdays, 4:00-5:15pm
Moakley Lower Level Waiting Room

Qigong (pronounced “chee-kong”) is the study (“kung”) of human energy (“qi”). It was developed 2,500 years ago in China and involves a total system of physical, mental, and spiritual exercises that deal with the promotion of health. Exercises release tension, strengthen the body and immune system, and increase mindfulness. Parking validation is provided.

Zumba

2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, 5:00-6:15pm
Moakley Lobby

Zumba is fun dance exercise inspired by Latin and international rhythms. Our classes are for all levels of fitness. Have a great time and get a good physical workout. Parking validation is provided.

Yoga

Tuesdays, 6:00-7:15pm
-AND-
Thursdays, 4:30-5:45pm
Moakley Lower Level Waiting Room

Yoga is a safe and gentle exercise that uses stretching, deep breathing, and relaxation. It may lessen pain and fatigue for cancer survivors, reduce back and joint aches, and help with insomnia and anxiety. Parking validation is provided.

Knitting

2nd Wednesday of the month, 6:00-8:00pm
Moakley Lower Level Waiting Room
-AND-
4th Thursday of the month, 10:00am-12:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Come spend some time knitting and socializing with other survivors at one of our two knitting groups. We provide materials, a variety of patterns, and basic instruction. All levels of experience are welcome. Parking validation is provided.

Arts & Crafts

1st Thursday of the month, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Each month, we teach a fun, simple craft for you to take home. No experience necessary. All materials are provided. Come share a laugh and get creative! Parking validation is provided.

Cooking Demonstrations

3rd Tuesday of the month, 2:30-3:30pm
Dowling Building, 4th floor, Demonstration Kitchen

Free cooking demonstrations show how to make easy dishes that are good for people who are dealing with cancer or diabetes, who want to manage their weight, or who just generally want to stay healthy! Recipe sheets and samples of the dishes are provided. Parking validation is provided.

Note: The date and time shown here are for the cooking demonstration for cancer survivors.

Special Programs and Events

For those who have or have had cancer and for their loved ones, survivorship is something to celebrate! Throughout the year, BMC organizes a variety of special programs and events that bring people together and are educational, inspirational, stimulating or relaxing, always enjoyable, and most often, fun! These activities include, but are not limited to:

  • “Taste of the World” Recipe Swap and Potlucks
  • Stowe, VT “Weekend of Hope”
  • Holiday Party
  • Quarterly Museum of Fine Arts Tours and Free Passes
  • Young Survivors Dinner Socials
  • …and much more!

For more information about scheduled activities, special programs and events, please call 617.638.7540 or email [email protected].

Complementary Services

Acupuncture

Tuesdays, 10:00am-5:00pm, by appointment
Yawkey ACC, 4th floor, Dept. of Family Medicine
-AND-
Thursdays, 9:00am-12:00pm, by appointment
Moakley, 3rd floor, Multi-Specialties area

Acupuncture promotes natural healing and has been used for thousands of years to treat a large variety of ailments. It can enhance recuperative power and immunity, support physical and emotional health, and improve overall function and well-being. Acupuncture is safe and painless and is offered free of charge to patients currently or recently in treatment for cancer. Patients should call 617.638.7540, email [email protected], or speak to their nurse to request an appointment.

Integrative Medicine Consults

Thursday afternoons, by appointment
Yawkey ACC, 4th floor, Dept. of Family Medicine

Integrative Medicine views the patient as a whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and blends the best of conventional medicine, complementary therapies, and lifestyle changes. Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, is a family physician at BMC who specializes in Integrative Medicine for cancer patients. In a 50-minute, one-on-one consult, she counsels on areas that may include diet, vitamins, supplements, herbs, home remedies, stress management, relaxation techniques, exercise, and hypnosis. Patients should call 617.638.7540, email [email protected], or speak to their nurse to request an appointment. A referral by the patient’s primary care physician will be required.

 

Breast Prosthesis and Bra Assistance

Patients that have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy may speak with their doctor or patient navigator about services available. They may also call Ellie Miethe, Certified Mastectomy Fitter, at 508.668.1103 for information.

Elizabeth Grady Spa Days

John Walsh, owner of the Elizabeth Grady School of Esthetics and Massage Therapy in Medford, MA, was approached in the mid-2000s about donating funds for the construction of the Moakley Building. He preferred instead to offer ongoing services to BMC’s cancer patients. Since 2007, his school has provided FREE spa days, usually several times a year, to men and women who have completed treatment, as a reward for what they have courageously endured. Included are full body massage, facial, make-up application (for women), lunch, and a gift bag of Elizabeth Grady products. Please call 617.638.7540 or [email protected] in order to be on the call list for an upcoming trip.

Patient Navigators

The program focuses on identifying and overcoming barriers that prevent patients from getting the treatment they need in a timely manner.

Patient navigators provide advocacy and case management to oncology patients who have at least one identified barrier to care. They work to empower patients by linking them to a broad range of services including, but not limited to, oncology support services, transportation, financial assistance, and appropriate community resources. Patient navigators frequently meet with patients during their oncology appointments and provide a great deal of behind the scenes support by reaching out to resources or other clinics on a patient’s behalf.

Patient navigators assist with:

  • Appointment reminders
  • Helping patients understand complex treatment schedules
  • Transportation
  • Insurance questions
  • Interpreter services
  • Connecting patients to Cancer Support Services programs and events
  • Referrals to community resources

Goals of the Oncology Patient Navigation Program include decreasing cancer disparities, improving both patient and provider satisfaction, and providing patients with a one-to-one connection through all pieces of the healthcare process.

Social Workers

Social workers are available to provide additional support services to patients and families and to help with emotional, psychological and social service needs. They are available on inpatient and outpatient units. Social workers can meet with patients before or after their doctor’s appointments. Patients can discuss these options with their physician or ask for a referral.

Nutritionists

Nutritionists can address concerns about diet and nutrition during the course of a patient’s cancer treatment. They are also available to meet before or after your other appointments. Physicians and social workers can help patients who are interested in seeing a nutritionist.

Genetic Counseling

The Cancer Care Center offers genetic counseling services. A licensed genetic counselor will review the patient’s medical information and detailed family history and perform an assessment to determine if a hereditary cancer predisposition may be increasing the risk for certain types of cancer in a person’s family.

Appropriate screening and surveillance recommendations will be made and genetic testing may be discussed, including possible results and the meaning of the results for the patient and his or her family members. A referral for genetic counseling is appropriate for:

  • Those diagnosed with breast, colon, ovarian, uterine, stomach, or another type of cancer;
  • Those with multiple gastrointestinal polyps before the age of 50; and/or
  • Anyone with a strong family history of cancer (especially if family members have been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 50)

Patients should allow one hour for the appointment and bring any family history information that they can collect from family members as well as any genetic test reports from family members who have previously pursued genetic testing.

For more information on diagnostic genetics at Boston Medical Center, please visit Diagnostic Genetics Services.

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