Support Groups Go Virtual for Cancer Patients and Survivors

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra layer of stress for cancer patients and survivors.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2018, and I didn’t find it. It was actually just my annual mammogram. I was mid-40’s, and I had it every year, and my radiologist noticed a cluster,” said Stephanie Roscoe.

A double mastectomy and reconstruction followed, along with a year of targeted therapy. She joined a support group through John Stoddard Cancer Center right away.

When the pandemic hit, they had to stop meeting in person. This month, they moved the support groups online. “Many of our patients are immunocompromised, either because of the treatment they’ve received or the cancer itself and so really we want to keep everyone safe and distanced as appropriate,” said Oncology Outreach Coordinator Gina Mandernach.

Roscoe is glad the support groups can meet virtually because it’s important at all stages. “We talk about some things that are very real, and it’s a great place to do that because we can’t always do those things with our families and our friends only because it’s scary. It’s scary for them, but it’s still going on for us,” said Roscoe.

You can find more information about joining a support group on UnityPoint Health’s website.

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