Women’s breast cancer support group will educate and enlighten | ParkRecord.com

Women’s breast cancer support group will educate and enlighten

Deb DeKoff, an educator at Ecker Hill Middle School, is a breast cancer survivor. She is forming a breast cancer support group that will be held the last Tuesday of each month at the Park City Medical Center. The first session will be held March 27.

Deb DeKoff, an educator at Ecker Hill Middle School, is a breast cancer survivor and wanted to create a support group for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, have survived breast cancer or are caretakers for someone who has breast cancer.

"The vision I have for this group is for caring and compassionate community leaders to come together to benefit those impacted by cancer, by creating an education-based support group," she said. "I wanted to help women who have breast cancer to understand what they are going through. I believe this is what I need to do."

DeKoff's free breast cancer support group, which will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month in Room 4 at Park City Hospital, 900 Round Valley Road at Quinn's Junction, will officially begin on March 27.

DeKoff believes the group will provide a service because breast cancer is so widespread.

“It won’t be just a group of women who will come together and commiserate about having cancer or fighting cancer...” Deb DeKoff, breast cancersupport group facilitator

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There were 236,968 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also stated that the numbers were the most recent available.

"That boils down to about one in eight women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life," DeKoff said. "So, it's likely we all know someone who can use support."

"A lot of people don't know who around them have it, because even when you go through chemo treatments, like I did, you can wear hats or things like that to cover it up," DeKoff said.

Those who have breast cancer often don't know how to deal with it, she said.

"[When] newly diagnosed, one is spinning in a whirlwind of a new lexicon, emotions; questions," DeKoff explained. "We don't know who to turn to, what to do. We question normalcy, face mortality and daily function. We're offered advice against a running clock."

DeKoff wants these groups to be a safe place to ask questions that only those who have experienced breast cancer can answer.

"It won't be just a group of women who will come together and commiserate about having cancer or fighting cancer; I wanted to make it a educational group," she said. "Obviously I'm not a medical professional, but I do have experience and have done a lot of research."

DeKoff, who is also a professional photographer, isn't new to advocacy. She was a key supporter of the the Womens' Cancer Screening Notification Amendments, a state House bill that Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law March 19. Under the law, doctors are now required to notify patients if they detect dense breast tissue, which can make it difficult to detect cancer.

In addition to her own research, DeKoff will present guest speakers to address the support group for the first half hour of each session.

"The speakers will be anyone who can use what they do for a living to assist the women in the room to better move ahead," DeKoff said. "They will be nutritionists, doctors, mindfulness instructors and others."

DeKoff has already scheduled Dr. Alana Welm, the Ralph E. and Willia T. Main presidential endowed chairwoman in cancer research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.

"Alana lives here in Park City and she is going to come and speak to the women," DeKoff said.

Another presenter is Michal LeBaron, from Integrity Wellness Worldwide, a Park City-based service that helps patients prioritize systems that impact the body's physiology.

"Michal has also offered to cohost the sessions, which is perfect, because I know that when you start something like this group, you have to bring in people who can add to what you want to do," she said. "I am reaching out to others and waiting for more people or groups to come forward to help us with this group."

DeKoff is grateful for Park City Hospital's support.

"I called and they immediately reserved a room for me," she said.

Room 4 only seats 20 people, so DeKoff started a Facebook group for women who are interested. To join the Faecebook group they need to register through http://www.paperlesspost.com/flyer/go/p006XWzh3gnN8mCQX0rb.

"That way if we get more than 20 people who are interested, I can make arrangements for a bigger room," DeKoff said

The breast cancer support group is only open to women right now.

"A lot of women might not be as open with their health issues if there are men in the room," DeKoff said. "Perhaps if men are curious and want to know how to better serve their partners, mothers, sisters, spouses, daughters or girlfriends, we may look to starting a separate session as well."

A free women’s breast cancer support group will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month in Room 4 of the Park City Hospital. To register, visit http://www.paperlesspost.com/flyer/go/p006XWzh3gnN8mCQX0rb.