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Advocating for Support Groups for MBC Patients

When Idalia Guzman was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in 2018, she couldn’t find other Latina women also living with the disease in her native Puerto Rico.

“I wanted to connect with someone in Puerto Rico that was metastatic, but I did not find any support groups in Puerto Rico,” Idalia said. Instead, she turned to social media, joining support groups on Facebook, including Komen’s MBC Support Group. This Facebook group provides a place where those living with metastatic breast cancer, and those who love them, can find support, friendship and information. 

“I reached out to other patients because I needed to talk about what was going on,” Idalia said. “No one else can relate to you more than another metastatic breast cancer patient.”

Social support in the form of support groups can improve the quality of life for those living with MBC by helping to reduce stress and anxiety, emotional distress and depression, fatigue and the experience of pain.

When Idalia couldn’t find an in-person support group, she partnered with another person living with MBC to start their own and build a community for those living with MBC in Puerto Rico. But Idalia has found that people are reluctant to join.

“It’s been hard to get other Latinas here in Puerto Rico to belong to this group,” Idalia said. “I’m not sure if this is something cultural – that maybe we as Latinas don’t speak so much of our disease, or maybe there’s a lack of education.”

Idalia also understands the barriers that prevent Latinos and others living with MBC from seeking support, as she struggled to come to terms with her diagnosis at first.

“At the beginning, I was ashamed of having metastatic breast cancer,” Idalia said. “I felt some sort of guilt that it was my fault that I had breast cancer because I wasn’t paying attention to my body; I wasn’t doing proper screenings. I have made peace with that now. It’s very important to seek medical attention and to get educated and to reach out to other patients.”

Those living with MBC can also find a local or online support group by calling the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or emailing Se habla español.

In addition to joining Komen’s MBC Facebook Support Group, those living with MBC can join Share Cancer Support’s weekly Zoom or telephone support groups. There are support groups offered for all people living with MBC, as well as support groups for Black and young women.

View more of Komen’s support resources for those living with MBC here.