Breast cancer support group offers physician expertise
Breast cancer survivors can now get a doctor’s perspective at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital’s monthly support group
The second Wednesday night of every month you can find David Weintritt, MD, breast surgeon, in a second floor conference room at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. Here, he talks and listens to a group of women who convene for the Mount Vernon Breast Cancer Support Group, which Dr. Weintritt spearheaded last year for breast cancer survivors.
“We have wanted for years to put together something to offer patients in the Mount Vernon area,” he says. “There are other support groups in the Northern Virginia area, but they are either covering multiple types of cancer or they are geographically difficult to get to, or perhaps they are run by ancillary personnel but don’t have much physician involvement. What we wanted to do was come up with a model that addresses all of those issues.”
Each meeting, which runs about two hours, focuses on a specific topic, such as nutrition, chemo brain or the benefit of mammograms for breast screenings. Sometimes Dr. Weintritt leads the discussion, and other times there is a guest speaker. There is plenty of time to socialize and ask questions. Michele Reddick, RN, BSN, an oncology nurse navigator, coordinates with the speakers and the group and organizes the discussions.
The women, who range from the newly diagnosed to those who are cancer-free, feel fortunate they have a group to go to with people who understand their experiences, as well as clinicians on-hand to listen and field questions.
“When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you receive a lot of love and support from family and friends. However, no one knows how you truly feel,” says member Donna Powell. “Deep down, I want to scream and cry. I am blessed to be able to sit in a room with other women who know exactly how I felt and still feel about my diagnosis and treatment.”
Pam Reynolds, a patient of Dr. Weintritt who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, agrees: “As much support as you can get from other people, it’s not 100 percent the same as someone who has experienced it herself. The fact this group is also goal-oriented, focused on developing survivorship plans and guided by those with relevant medical knowledge makes it a full-service breast cancer support system.”
Dr. Weintritt says he has gained a lot of insight from the women. Thanks to their candor about their treatment experiences, he has learned about medication side effects that he wasn’t aware of previously.
“If the group continues on its current path, both sides will benefit,” he says. “It’s always good to be in an environment where people feel good asking questions.”
To get more information about the Mount Vernon Breast Cancer Support Group, call Michele Reddick, oncology nurse navigator, at 703.664.7488.