Breast Cancer Care identified particular needs for younger women with secondary breast cancer which were not being addressed, and in 2014 piloted a residential two-day event for this group in London. Thirty-seven women attended and evaluation feedback was overwhelmingly positive. In-depth follow-up demonstrated that the event had a very significant impact on the attendees and many had changed their behaviour or made other changes in their lives as a direct result. The event was run for a second time in 2015 in Manchester. Every client who attended said they would recommend the service to others. Breast Cancer Care has now committed to delivering this event annually.
In 2002, Breast Cancer Care developed a residential event for women aged 45 and under, going through a diagnosis of breast cancer. These events have run up to seven times a year since then and hundreds of women have attended. Initially the events were open to women with both a primary and a secondary (incurable) diagnosis. Evaluation soon showed however that women with metastatic breast cancer were always in the minority, felt inhibited in discussions because they did not want to frighten the women with primary cancer, and that the information and support on offer were not effectively meeting their needs. This meant women with secondaries were encouraged to access other Breast Cancer Care services such as Living with Secondary Breast Cancer meet-ups and our online discussion forums – but unmet needs remained. These included feelings of isolation, preparing children for the future, working with a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness and the impact on current and potential relationships.
To reduce isolation by providing participants with a chance to meet and talk to others in a similar situation. To provide participants with young children the opportunity to discuss the practical and emotional issues this raises. To offer a chance to explore feelings about their changed future (including goals, ambitions and loss of opportunity to have children). To offer the opportunity to discuss the side effects of treatments, their impact on daily life and relationships and how these might be managed.
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