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Breast cancer survivors show women the 'way'


May 30, 2013
<b>Elly Jacobs, left, was among the latest women to attend the new breast cancer support group at Noble Hospital in Westfield. Leonor Salvador, co-facilitator of the group, reviews a welcoming packet of items with Jacobs that each woman receives when she attends a meeting.</b> <br>Reminder Publications photo by Lori Szepelak

Elly Jacobs, left, was among the latest women to attend the new breast cancer support group at Noble Hospital in Westfield. Leonor Salvador, co-facilitator of the group, reviews a welcoming packet of items with Jacobs that each woman receives when she attends a meeting.
Reminder Publications photo by Lori Szepelak

By Lori Szepelak

lori@thereminder.com

WESTFIELD — Two local women — both breast cancer survivors — have launched a new support group at Noble Hospital to help other women in the same situation.

The Pink W.A.Y. (Women Around You) is being spearheaded by facilitators Leonor Salvador and Maureen Ender, under the direction of Dr. Steven Schonholz, FACS, director of Noble's Comprehensive Breast Program.

The group meets the third Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and features guest speakers who specialize in breast cancer treatments and education.

On the early evening of May 21, three women were new to the group, including two who have been friends for many years. After casual introductions, each woman received a pink gift bag that included a book both Salvador and Ender recommend, "After Breast Cancer: A Common Sense Guide to Life After Treatment" by Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW.

Salvador explained that the goal of the new group is to be "casual but supportive."

"If you're presently going through treatments or have completed them, don't go through it alone, we are here to support you," Salvador said.

Friends Elly Jacobs and Marlene Snyder have supported each other through their recent cancer bouts and also hoped the new group might help them address lingering questions they have.

"I want to have a greater understanding of what others are going through," said Jacobs, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of March and has since had surgery. Snyder was diagnosed with breast cancer last August.

"Providing support to others is also important to one's recovery," Snyder said.

For Zada Woods, a long-time registered nurse who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2010, she noted support groups with guest speakers can help broaden one's knowledge.

"Being a nurse I had more knowledge and it made it harder because I knew more and would think of the worst case scenarios," she said. "I worked through it, both physically and mentally, and asked God to help me."

All women agreed that keeping a positive outlook is essential during the recovery period and beyond.

"Support groups can be an important part of a patient's recovery after what breast cancer survivors go through," Salvador said. "Keeping informed and having a positive attitude goes a long way in recovery."

Ender echoed those sentiments.

"Women can express how they feel in our meetings," Ender said, adding, "everyone has gone through the same thing."

The next meeting is scheduled June 18 and will feature guest speaker Donna Reed of Pink Petal in South Hadley. Reed's business offers a complete line of mastectomy products including bras, swimsuits and breast prostheses.

"Every other month we will have speakers from all kinds of subjects," Salvador said. "Speakers will inform and inspire women."

For more information about The Pink W.A.Y., contact Salvador at lsalva2151@aol.com, or Ender at ccw032@aol.com.

Both Salvador and Ender also conduct regional fundraisers for breast cancer awareness programs throughout the year. They are currently hosting a "Bottles for Breast Cancer" fundraiser, asking for donations of soda, water and beer cans and bottles that will benefit Noble's program. All bottles and cans can be dropped off June 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Del's Nursery, 279 Cady St., Ludlow.

For more information, call 530-2972.

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