Q: I’d really like to talk with other women who are like me—young and dealing with breast cancer. Most of the women in the support group I joined have already raised their families or retired after long careers. How can I find a group that’s more focused on the realities of my life?
A: Many breast cancer support groups that meet face-to-face draw members from the immediate neighborhood or sponsoring organization, such as a church or synagogue. That may not be a wide enough net to include many young women as group members.
Hospitals, cancer centers and breast cancer organizations in your area may offer more specialized support groups just for younger women. Talk with your oncology nurse, social worker or the public education department of the hospital or organization to locate a group suited to your concerns.
No matter where you live or what local facilities can offer, you can go online—as many young women dealing with breast cancer do—to find support, friendship and hope from others who’ve gone through, or are facing, the same experiences as you. Young women also are active participants in telephone hotline support networks.
Here are several options for help:
- The Breast Cancer Helpline (888) 753-LBBC  can match you with a woman of similar age to talk with by phone. Our national, toll-free service is staffed by trained volunteers affected by breast cancer.
- Young Survival Coalition is an international network of breast cancer survivors dedicated to young women’s concerns. The organization maintains an active online bulletin board which draws participants from around the world.
- Breast Cancer Network of Strength has a 24-hour national hotline staffed by trained volunteers. You can be matched with a counselor who is also young. BCNOS also runs support groups in some areas, including groups for women in their 20s and 30s.
- I'm Too Young For This provides peer support and social networks for young adults affected by cancer.
- Planet Cancer offers information, connections, entertainment and support. The heart of the site is the Forum, a thriving online community where users find and communicate with other young adults around the world about what's on their minds.
Reviewed by Clifford A. Hudis, MD