Introduction: Women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), a life-threatening illness, stand to benefit a great deal from in-person and online support groups. Early detection and treatment have resulted in more cancer patients surviving breast cancer.1 The ostensible goal of such groups is to provide support for the physical and emotional stressors that cancer survivors face, as well as provide information on coping and treatment options.2 Topics of discussions in support groups include the emotional impact of illness, understanding the disease, medication reconciliation, family difficulty, problems of intimacy, sense of isolation and loneliness, stigma, role changes, self-care management support, and other cancer-specific concerns. Components of mutual aid witnessed in MBC include direct assistance, taking patients away from the hospital environment to a nice and cozy atmosphere where they can relax and just have fun, advice-giving, and emotional support. Studies have reported a higher rate of survivorship among members of breast cancer support groups (CSGs).3 There is a dearth of information on the impact of support groups on breast cancer patients in Nigeria. CSGs are novel for all cancers in Nigeria. In this study we are using breast cancer as a model; this will be followed with more studies in other cancers.
Aim: The goal of this study is to measure the impact of Pink & MetaPink Stars CSG facilitated by an advanced licensed oncology patient navigator on metastatic and early-stage breast cancer patients.
Design: A cross-sectional design was employed.
Materials and Methods: Twenty-one women with metastatic and early-stage breast cancer participated in the program evaluation project. The survey tool was developed and controlled for validity. Patients were screened for distress as a baseline measure before and after each meeting. Qualitative data were analyzed using content and Google analytics app. The group participants completed initial and end-of-year interview guides and end-of-year review forms. The transcribed conversations of weekly meetings of Pink & MetaPink Stars were examined using interaction process analysis to discover how the patients were impacted.
Results: A total of 21 patients participated in this study. The mean age of the respondents was 48.7 ± 11.4 years. About one-quarter (25%) of the respondents were diagnosed with cancer in 2016, 33% in 2017, 25% in 2018, and 16.7% in 2019. Sixteen percent of the respondents are survivors, 49% are Lagos University Teaching Hospital patients, 8.3% are Lakeshore patients, 16.6% are patients from University College Hospital, and 9.5% are patients from University of Benin Teaching Hospital. The majority (91.7%) of the respondents said the patient navigator support group has been very resourceful to them, and 98.6% said they have received support from the Pink & MetaPink Stars support group. Approximately 83.3% said they get answers to their questions often, all the respondents said they will keep coming for the support group sessions if they get the chance to come, and 83.3% said they will recommend the patient navigator program (PNP) support group to other patients. Three-quarters (75%) said they do not attend the PNP support group with family members or close relatives, and 83.3% said they find interactions with other patients fulfilling, while 8.3% said no. About 91.6% said the PNP support group has them explore cheaper discounted options for treatment.
Conclusion: Pink & MetaPink Stars CSG is a relatively new concept in Nigeria, but it has impacted positively in supporting patients and linking patients to community support, thereby reducing patients’ stress as they walk through survivorship.
Relevance to Clinical Practice: Oncology centers and healthcare facilities caring for cancer patients should consider establishing CSGs for metastatic and early- stage breast cancer patients in their facility that have the potential to meet the patients’ informational, emotional support, and social and psychosocial support needs. The results from this study indicate that through Pink & MetaPink Stars support group, the oncology patient navigator was able to take a closer look and understand, from the patients’ perspectives, the patients’ needs, thereby linking the patients to community support, both within and outside the hospital facility, meeting the psychosocial needs and support of the patient by breaking barriers to treatment and reducing patients’ stress to the barest minimum.
Recommendations: All institutions in Nigeria should embrace Pink & MetaPink Stars CSGs.
- Madore S, Kilbourn K, Valverde P, et al. Feasibility of a psychosocial and patient navigation intervention to improve access to treatment among underserved breast cancer patients. Support Care Cancer. 2014;22:2085-2093.
- Butler G, Cullington A, Hibbert G, et al. Anxiety management for persistent generalised anxiety. Br J Psychiatry. 1987;151:535-542.
- Tan PY, Tien Tau LC, Lai Meng OY. Living with cancer alone? The experiences of singles diagnosed with colorectal cancer. J Psychosoc Oncol. 2015;33:354-376.