Survive and Thrive

New group offers women support and skills for breast cancer journey

Published 10/6/2019

Everyone’s cancer journey is unique and, when you start on it, you have no idea what yours will be like.

Tammy Nardi recalls thinking at the beginning, “OK, I can handle this.” But, about six weeks into treatment, “I really started to feel down. I had lost all of my hair. It was hard to relate to everybody at work. It was the most beautiful time of the year, everyone had vacation plans, and I had to be in a chemo lab.”

It was about that time when Dr. Jessica Ryan, Medical Director of CMC’s Breast Care Center, invited her to take part in a new group, the Breast Cancer Thriver’s Club.

“It really helped me from the first session that I attended. I felt cared for and loved,” Tammy recalls. “The other women were all at different stages of their plan, and they uplifted me. I had lots of questions and seeing where they all were gave me a process to follow. I felt like, ‘I can do this.’”

Thriver’s Club consists for four group sessions covering topics like self care, intimacy, nutrition and mindfulness. Mary Wood-Gauthier, RN, from CMC’s Wellness & Risk Reduction says, “the whole program helps women focus on the tools, both practical and fun, to make the mind-body-spirit connection they need to get through the fog of cancer.”

“There are others who will be there for you taking care of your disease,” says Tammy, “but there are aspects of life that you can’t put on hold, that you really have to practice. Learning what will put you in a good mood, help you through the day, help you relax. You need these skills to survive.”

The Thriver’s Club underscores one of the first things Dr. Ryan tries to tell her patients when discussing a cancer diagnosis. “A woman will almost always, instinctively, put others ahead of herself. But in order to gain control of her therapy, in order to thrive, she has to learn how to make herself the #1 priority.”

“And it’s OK to do that,” Tammy learned. “I was so concerned about how to handle work and balance my responsibilities. I had to admit maybe I couldn’t and this group helped me learn that you really have to take care of yourself and ask for help.”

Check the event listings for information about the next session of the Breast Cancer Thriver's Club.

Listen to Tammy's podcast with Dr Ryan on WZID.

In the photo: Breast Cancer Center patient Tammy Nardi