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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 Programs

Boston Medical Center's Cancer Support Programs includes an array of groups, activities, events, and feature offerings throughout the year to support, encourage, and uplift cancer patients and their loved ones.

For a full list of offerings, view the most recent quarterly newsletter/calendar.

Support Groups

For current patients and long-term survivors alike, support 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 when and where they may have been 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.
  • Food and free parking are provided.

Why Attend a Support Group?

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

  • Good listening and understanding
  • Answers, encouragement, and other ways to look at things
  • Humor and wisdom
  • Opportunities to be helpful
  • Opportunities to make new friends
  • Hope for going forward

...by Cancer Type 
...by Patient Population 
Additional Support 
Related Support

...by Cancer Type

Blood Cancer

2nd Wednesday of the month, 1:00-3:00pm
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, 6:00-7:45pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Open to women who have ever been diagnosed with breast cancer, regardless of when and 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 manager of Cancer Support Programs 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.

Gynecological (GYN) Cancer

3rd Wednesday of the month, 1:00-2:30pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

This is a monthly, women-only meeting to discuss issues relating to gynecological (GYN) cancers. It is an opportunity to share experiences, ask questions, and encourage and support one another. Medical personnel and other professionals also visit the group periodically to give presentations and respond to questions. Lunch and free parking are provided.

The main gynecological cancers include cervical, endometrial, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.

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

2nd 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.

Prostate Cancer

2nd Tuesday of the month, 6:00-8:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor 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. For patients whose prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level is high or rising, or for those who 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.

...by Patient Population

Cape Verdean Creole / Portuguese-Speaking

2nd Monday of the month, 5:30-7:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Open to Cape Verdean and Portuguese 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. Dinner, parking validation, and limited assistance with transportation home are provided.

Haitian Creole-Speaking

Last Monday 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.

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

Last 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. The group provides 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.

Cancer Support for Young Adults

A member-led social/support/activity group for young adults (ages 18-39) with any type of cancer. The group meets various places off-site. For more information, contact the office at 617-638-7540 or [email protected].

Additional Support...

Caregivers Conference Call-In (Starting in May 2017)

1st Tuesday and 1st Thursday of the month, 10:30am-12:00pm
Dial 617-414-2424, then enter code 87540 and # when asked.

The role of caregiver to a cancer patient can be very challenging, especially when the patient is in treatment. Now, without leaving home, caregiviers can easily join in with a facilitator and other caregivers to learn from and support one another. Interested caregivers can simply call the number above.

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

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 offers a Bereavement Group to provide certain support to those who would like help in coping with their loss.

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

Related Support...

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.

Ostomy

3rd Thursday of the month, 2:00-3:30pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Help with the daily logistics and lifestyle concerns of dealing with a colostomy, ileostomy, or urostomy. Gain confidence and mutual support as professionals and peers share personal experience and practical information. 

Sarcoidosis

2nd Thursday of the month, 6:30-8:00pm
Moakley Lower Level Waiting Room

The New England Sarcoidosis Support Group provides a safe and supportive environment for those suffering from sarcoidosis as well as for family members and close friends impacted by the disease. The goals of the group are to offer support, education, and encouragement to all in a relaxed atmosphere. Light refreshments and snacks are provided along with literature from the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research.

Support Activities

Cancer Support Programs 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 when and where they may have been 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.

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.

Qigong/Tai Chi

Wednesdays, 4:00-5:00pm
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.

Line Dancing

1st and last Tuesdays of the month, 4:45-5:45pm
Moakley Lobby

Line dance is a popular type of group dance performed by a group of people in formation doing the same series of choreographed steps. Examples of line dances include the “Cupid Shuffle,” the “Electric Slide,” the “Hully Gully,” the “Macarena,” and the “Wobble.” The classes are for all levels of fitness and ability.

Zumba

2nd and 3rd Wednesdays of the month, 6:00-7:15pm
Moakley Lobby

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

Mindfulness and Meditation

Wednesdays, 5:00-6:00pm
Moakley Lower Level Waiting Room

Mindfulness is paying attention to whatever is going on inside you and around you in the present moment, noticing these things but not judging them. The class offers readings, recordings, and discussions to help participants better understand mindfulness and its benefits, as well as exercises and meditations to experience and practice mindfulness.

Knitting

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

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

Arts & Crafts

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

Each month, participants learn how to make a fun, simple craft that they can take home. No experience necessary. All materials are provided. Come share a laugh and get creative! Parking validation is provided.

Cooking Demonstrations

3rd Wednesday of the month, 2:45-3:45pm
Yawkey ACC, 2nd 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 day and time shown here are for the cooking demonstration for cancer survivors. For more information and a full schedule of classes, including those focusing on weight management, diabetes, and more, visit the Food Demonstration Kitchen or call 617.414.3840.

Special 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 events and feature programs 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:

True Story Theater

True Story Theater is a nonprofit, improvisational theater company that offers new perspectives and insights on stories from the audience. With humor, drama, song, and dance, the actors instantaneously “play back” the experiences told to them, to the delight of all! 

Survivors Celebration

Every spring BMC hosts its annual Survivors Celebration to honor cancer survivors and their loved ones. Hundreds come together for music, lunch, photos, prizes, and more.

Stowe VT Weekend of Hope

Every first weekend in May, BMC sends a large group of its cancer survivors and their guests to the wonderful “Weekend of Hope” in Stowe, VT. This retreat is a celebration of life and learning for survivors of all cancers, at any stage in their disease, and for those who love them. It offers educational, recreational, and social opportunities in a beautiful mountain resort town.

Games on the Green

A fun opportunity for survivors and their families to come together to take part in old, familiar games like “Giant Steps,” “Red Light, Green Light,” relay races, and more. All ages are welcome to participate in this good-natured competition that takes place out on the spacious grassy area in front of the Moakley Building.

Art in the Moment

A stimulating day of collective art-making. Survivors, family, and friends are invited to express themselves freely and playfully in a range of group activities. Previous years’ projects have included sculptures, collages, mosaics, and much more! No experience necessary.

Comedy Night

Everyone knows that laughter is good medicine, so come prepared to laugh out loud. Survivors, family, and friends are encouraged to bring and share their best funny stories and jokes at this “open-mic” event.

Thanksgiving Musical Fiesta

An evening of good food, live music, and dancing. Performances are by and for members of the cancer community and their loved ones.

Holiday Party

Dinner and festivities for cancer survivors and their loved ones who have been recent participants in any Cancer Support Programs programs and activities.

…and much more!

Feature Programs

Quarterly Museum of Fine Arts Tours

Four times a year, the Museum of Fine Arts opens its doors to BMC cancer survivors and their guests for a free guided tour of different exhibits.

Free museum passes for cancer survivors are available year round from the office. Call 617-638-7540 or email [email protected] for details.

Boston University College of Fine Arts

The Boston University College of Fine Arts provides Cancer Support Programs with free tickets to high-quality theater and music performances.

Systemic Family Constellations

Dan Cohen, an international trainer and facilitator of this unique type of work, helps people see their challenges and struggles in profound, new ways. The work reveals deep elements of human relations—love and strength, loss and exclusion—to which all workshop participants can generally relate.

Recipe Swap and Potluck Evenings

Three times a year, patients and staff are invited to bring a favorite recipe and dish to share. After discussion of culinary techniques and customs, seasoning secrets, etc., the group enjoys what generally turns out to be a multicultural feast.

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

Complementary Services

Acupuncture

Thursdays, 9:00am-12:00pm, by appointment
Moakley, 3rd floor, Multispecialty Services

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, 5th 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.

Look Good Feel Better

Certain Mondays, 10:00am-12:00pm
Moakley 3rd Floor Conference Room

Beauty and hygienic care, make-up and other resources for women in treatment. See “Look Good Feel Better” on pages 9, 10, and 11 of the newsletter/calendar or call 617-414-5773 for dates. Participants must sign up in advance: call 617.414.5773.

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 periodic spa days to men and women who have completed treatment, as a reward for what they have courageously endured. Included are a full body massage, a 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.

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Patient Navigation

The Oncology Patient Navigation 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 the Cancer Survivorship Program
  • 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.

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Social Work

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.

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Nutrition

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 a patient's other appointments. Physicians and social workers can help patients who are interested in seeing a nutritionist.

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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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