Stories of Hope
The Value of Support
Article date: September 28, 2001
My attitude and my friends are the reason I am surviving", says Henderson. "I can't overstate the value of a good support group, and the value of friends.
Sherry Henderson rests uneasily in her favorite chair. It's obvious that sitting still has not been part of her makeup. Life as a U.S. Navy Captain and respected physician kept Sherry on the move for decades. A breast cancer diagnosis three years ago forced her to accept a new assignment, that of a patient. Glancing out from her hilltop home in San Diego's east county, she offers observations on her breast cancer journey that alternate from the crisp insights of a physician, to those of a bright and engaged patient. This morning, her focus turns to patient support.
"My attitude and my friends are the reason I am surviving", says Henderson. "I can't overstate the value of a good support group, and the value of friends." Some of those friends became known to thousands of readers of The San Diego Union-Tribune last October when the newspaper put "The Friends of Sherry Henderson" on the front page of the paper. Sherry and some 80 of her friends formed a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer team and all took part in San Diego's walk through Balboa Park. It was an honor that stunned the former naval officer at the time, the paper quoted her: "I'm pretty overwhelmed...I'm very humbled, very touched this many people would be walking (with me)".
"I've been involved with a patient support group for the past two years. At first, I was able to keep my physician's title under wraps and that opened my eyes to many types of questions, things you just don't necessarily think about when you're the doctor. If I had any advice to a newly diagnosed patient, it would be 'get involved, get in a support group, and get educated...ask questions'", Henderson offered.
By making use of counseling and support mechanisms, Sherry has been able to smoothly transition from one phase of her treatment to the next, maximizing her quality of life. The American Cancer Society offers newly diagnosed patients and their families a wealth of information and support groups such as Look Good, Feel Better and Reach to Recovery all at no cost. Referrals to counselors are also available, as well as transportation assistance for patients.