Since Dana Foss knows first-hand that a support group can be an invaluable resource for cancer patients and their loved ones, she and her colleagues are adding early-evening meetings to the Heartland Cancer Center (HCC) Support Group schedule.
"We just want to accommodate as many people as we can," said Foss, the group’s facilitator. "All of us believe we are missing people who want to participate but can’t attend in the afternoon because of work or other commitments."
The new September-to-May schedule will keep the afternoon meetings but add others that begin early in the evening. The 2 p.m. meetings are set for the first Tuesday of the month, while on the third Tuesdays, the session will begin at 5:45 p.m. They are held at the HCC, 204 Cleveland, and last about an hour.
Foss, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1993 and breast cancer in 1994, is now cancer-free. She noted that the interaction with others in the support group throughout the years has been comforting to her and her family.
"If you can listen to patients, survivors and caregivers, you know there are others who understand what you are going through," Foss said. "In our support group, you can feel free to say anything.
"For instance," Foss explained, "I can tell my peers that I am just as nervous right now about my yearly check-ups as I was when I was diagnosed. Others may think I have nothing to worry about because so much time has passed. But those in the support group know how I feel."
Foss realizes that some people may not be interested in a support group because they would rather deal with the situation privately. "And that’s okay," she said. "But we still want to provide them with options if they change their minds."
The HCC group regularly invites speakers who provide information on a wide variety of topics. Christy Thomas of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will speak to the group at its Sept. 6 meeting.
The HCC is part of the St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center family.