SHARE offers longtime support to cancer patients

(l-r): Christine Benjamin, SHARE’s breast cancer program director; Andrea Herzberg, SHARE’s ovarian cancer helpline coordinator; and Marjorie Schwartz, SHARE board member, volunteer on SHARE’s Breast Cancer Helpline, and a SHARE support group facilitator.
Photo courtesy of SHARE

Bronxites with breast cancer can look to SHARE cancer support for help.

SHARE is a city-wide organization whose mission is to offer free services to women with ovarian and breast cancers, said Christine Benjamin, the SHARE Breast Cancer Program director.

“We’re here to provide the kind of support people require as their going through their treatment,” she said.

Those services include a telephone help line, staffed by volunteer survivors who can answer questions and provide support and information; in-person support groups throughout the five boroughs; telephone support groups for advanced cancer patients; and educational programming in person and online.

“It’s all to empower and to educate patients,” said Benjamin about the services.

Benjamin said if you call the help line once, the volunteer will ask if you’d like them to call back and check up with you throughout treatment, or they can match you with a peer who has had a similar experience.

The organization’s support can help women process the initial anxiety that comes with the diagnosis and waiting for more testing, she said, and they can also help patients with the steep learning curve of medical terms associated with types of cancer and treatment.

“Breast cancer has it’s own language,” said Benjamin.

The support can help guide patients through treatment and address the side effects of chemotherapy like hair loss, said Benjamin, which can be traumatic for many women.

The organization’s support follows women throughout the process and into survivorship, which has it’s own issues and anxieties, said Benjamin.

“Every time you have to go see the oncologist, it comes back up again,” said Benjamin.

The in-person support groups, run by survivors, offer a very welcoming and friendly atmosphere, where women in all stages of treatment are present, said Benjamin. She said the group offers an environment where you are completely free to talk about your true feelings, and you don’t have to be strong for anyone.

“The peer support component is invaluable,” she said. “There’s an automatic connection.”

While Benjamin understands that some people are reluctant to seek help, she suggests everyone give it a try and see if it’s helpful for them.

“We’re often unaware of our emotional needs,” said Benjamin.

In-person support groups are held periodically at the Riverdale YM-YWHA and Jacobi Medical Center; call 1-212-382-2111 to register.

To learn more about SHARE’s support services, visit share‌cance‌rsupp‌, or call the toll-free help line at 844-ASK-SHARE.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwill‌iams@‌cnglo‌

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