A Black Minority Ethnic (BME) support group offering a range of advice, support and information, as well as the opportunity to make connections within the wider community and get involved in topical discussions, is proving to be a real lifeline for Walsall women living with breast cancer.
The (BME) Breast Cancer Support Group meets once a month at Walsall Manor Hospital and was set up in recognition of the fact that BME cancer patients cultural and linguistic needs were not being met.
The support group is open to female carers as well as patients and is somewhere women can feel safe. It enables them to talk openly about their personal experiences and share their thoughts and feelings.
Naheed Razzaq, Outreach Information and Support Officer based at Walsall Palliative Care Centre, facilitates the group alongside one of the Breast Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS). Naheed explained that a breast cancer diagnosis can be a very frightening time, but it can be reassuring for women to know they are not alone.
“While women may discuss some intensely personal issues, others can find this sharing of experiences can be therapeutic. We have patients who have attended the group for a while assisting newer members, this helps foster the feeling of empowerment amongst the group.”
As well as offering women clinical and emotional outreach support, the group has also started to offer colour art therapy.
Naheed said: “One of the earliest scientists to have studied the therapeutic benefits of colouring pages for adults was Carl Jung. He studied colouring of Mandalas as early as the first half of the 20th century. He often used Mandalas (which have concentric circles and geometrical patterns in them) for his patients and found that it helped them.”
Irene Sayimani is one of the group’s members.
She said; “I like being able to come together with other women and make new friendships, there’s a social aspect to it as well as a health aspect.
“I have found out about how to live as healthily as possible and enjoyed the healthy cooking sessions we had. It’s a good group because we support one another.”
Layla Khan and Usha Chouhan echoed her comments and added: “Something like this helps build your confidence.”
Naheed said the group is rich in culture, language and spirituality and patients feel it helps to tackle isolation and loneliness during their breast cancer journey.
“We are a warm and friendly group who will always make new members welcome. We encourage patients to be proactive in their own healthcare and to get involved in topical discussions such as Herceptin, Advanced Care Planning (ACP), Exercise, Nutrition, combatting fatigue, breast pain, chemotherapy side effects and finances to name just a few.”
For more information on the support group contact Naheed on 0800 783 9050 or 01922 602610, or the Breast Clinical Nurse Specialists on 01922 721172 ext 7108.