Q:  I am a breast cancer survivor and have found life after treatment to be extremely challenging.  Are there any resources available specifically for breast cancer survivors, like myself?

You are not alone.  Many women continue to feel the impact of breast cancer long after their treatment has ended.  The truth is, breast cancer can present many challenges to a woman's health, both physically and mentally, during and after treatment.  In fact, a recent survey showed that most women (4 out of 5) experience some form of distress due to their breast cancer diagnosis.  Unfortunately, right now, emotional support is considered an "extra" or "add-on" that's not part of the standard care women with breast cancer receive, even in light of research that shows getting the right support can have a positive impact on survivors' health.

There are resources available to help support you.  Non-profit organizations, like the Cancer Support Community (www.cancersupportcommunity.org), provide a variety of resources for breast cancer survivors, including support groups, counseling, disease information, well-being activities and more.  Whether you prefer to access services online or in a community-based center, there is something for everyone. 

It is important to note that there is still much to learn about the challenges and needs of breast cancer survivors.  The good news is a new, nationwide movement of breast cancer survivors is working to do just that.  The Breast Cancer M.A.P. (Mind Affects the Physical) Project, a registry of breast cancer survivors, is being launched to better understand practical questions about the distress women experience during their breast cancer journey.  Through this new registry, driven by the voice of the breast cancer survivor community, we will finally be able to answer critical questions other research has not addressed (like can the right support improve your overall health and well-being?).

The only way we will be able to learn more is if breast cancer survivors, like yourself, join the movement and share their experiences with breast cancer. Participants will be provided research updates and opportunities to connect with other women online.  I hope you'll consider joining the movement.  To learn more about the registry or to sign up you can visit www.breastcancerregistry.org or call 1-888-MAP-CSC9 (1-888-627-2729). 

Joanne Buzaglo, Ph.D. is a behavioral health researcher and clinical psychologist with extensive experience in the development and evaluation of interventions designed to help patients cope with the complex challenges associated with cancer.  In addition, Dr. Buzaglo is a long-time cancer survivor herself.  Dr. Buzaglo joined the Cancer Support Community (CSC) in August 2008 as Senior Director of Research of the Research and Training Institute with the charge to build the Cancer Survivor Registry: Breast Cancer M.A.P. (Mind Affects the Physical) Project. 

Dr. Buzaglo received her doctorate at Temple University and completed a post-graduate fellowship in Health Services, Research & Development at the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA.  In addition, she trained at the Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania, and at Friends Hospital of Philadelphia. Prior to coming to CSC, she was a behavioral research associate at Fox Chase Cancer Center.