Deanna's Discoveries: Emotional support

July 27, 2018 09:07 PM

Cancer is too big to fight alone, and now a number of clinical studies prove that point. 

Studies show patients who have emotional support live better, often longer lives. 


As many of you know, I'm currently battling my fourth cancer fight. This time it's breast cancer. 

So as a station, News10NBC decided to bring you a series of stories we're calling Deanna's Discoveries. They are stories we hope improve the lives of other patients by bringing information, help, and hope.

Every three weeks I sit in the infusion room of the Pluta Cancer Center for hours for chemotherapy.

But I'm not there alone.

Every week some of my church sisters join me. In the words of my mother, "we're sisters not by blood but by choice."

Those sisters keep mom and me giggling during the hours I'm hooked to an IV pump as we share lighthearted stories about our lives and friendship. Now these chemo treatments feel less like a fight for my life and more like an appreciation of the life I have.  

Doctors have long noted the difference made by emotional support, and now countless scholarly articles, like this one published by the National Institutes of Health show "emotional support from others can be protective for health." 
My oncologist, Dr. Alissa Huston, believes emotional support is so important. 

She asks new patients to complete a questionnaire about support and stress. That's a dramatic shift in the approach taken during my first cancer diagnoses 30 years ago.

"And then in addition some of the other supportive things that we do here (URMC) like massage and nutrition and other things that we look at, so we're looking at the whole person," said Dr. Huston.

Treating the whole person, not just the tumor, is a fairly new approach that improves your quality of life, and some studies indicate the length of your life.

I attend a weekly noon support group at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, gathering strength and wisdom from other women who all get it, and get me.  

That's key. 

But whether you choose to attend a formal support group or you surround yourself with folks you know well, cancer is a fight far better fought holding the hand of a friend.

We are so fortunate in the Rochester community to have a wealth of emotional support resources.  Here are some of them. 


Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester

Gilda’s Club

Embrace Your Sisters

Support groups and programs at Wilmot

Support Services at Rochester General

YMCA Livestrong Program

Naides Oncology Rowing

Camp Good Days


SIS – Sustain Inspire Survive

Genesee Cancer Assistance




Deanna Dewberry

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