SANTA FE — The Cancer Foundation for New Mexico (CFFNM) is a local non-profit organization that provides life-critical services to northern New Mexican cancer patients and their families. Founded in 2003, CFFNM offers mileage reimbursement, overnight lodging and grocery cards to in-need northern New Mexican cancer patients to ensure access to their treatment in Santa Fe.
One of its vital services is a comprehensive schedule of support groups to offer healing and hope for cancer patients as well as caregivers and family members.
“Our support groups are available to all cancer patients and their caregivers regardless of financial need,” CFFNM Executive Director Corinne Collins said. “The support groups provide a safe place to share concerns and help participants realize they are not alone in their journeys.”
Four support groups are available at the CFFNM office in Santa Fe as well as one new support group, in collaboration with the Los Alamos Council on Cancer, now meeting in Los Alamos, NM at the Betty Ehart Senior Center. These complimentary support groups are led by licensed professionals and allow people to learn and connect from others facing similar circumstances.
Having cancer is one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. Many studies have shown the significant impact of participating in a support group as a means to reduce anxiety and emotional stress, and improve mood, self-esteem and a feeling of control. According to support group leader Janet Smith, RN, “I see over time strong connections develop between participants, which helps get them out of their personal suffering.”
The cancer experience doesn’t just affect the individual patient—the illness casts a wide net.
Those people who are intimately involved with the patient also need a safe space to voice their concerns and receive comfort and support. One caregiver shared, “The support groups are an invaluable resource for the community and for me personally. It’s overwhelming when cancer enters your life and changes it forever. People who have never experienced having cancer in their lives can’t fully understand what it is like”.
The CFFNM’s caregivers and family members support group is uniquely designed to address this population. “People close to cancer patients often must make changes to cope with the needs of the patient,” explains support group leader Ronni Levine, LMFT. “And dealing with cancer can transform relationship roles.”
CFFNM support groups available to northern New Mexicans include the following:
How We Heal—open to all people who have a cancer diagnosis and includes tips on how to navigate and be supported by the system.
Together—focused on helping friends, family and caregivers of cancer patients.
Living with Cancer—for patients dealing with the challenges of recurrent or metastic cancer.
Empowering Ourselves to Heal—a women’s only group for women with cancer that offers inspiration and camaraderie in the midst of illness.