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New cancer support group for women offers much-needed circle of care

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Isolating. There have been innumerable adjectives to describe cancer, but this is the one Sundas Shamshad chooses. A cancer survivor – Sundas, who has been an active community volunteer was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, and is launching Sisters in Cancer, a group for cancer patients and survivors - open to women only regardless of faith/creed. The open house is on October 9, 2019. 6 p.m., at the Eagle Ridge YMCA.

A McMurray resident for over five years, Sundas has been in remission since this March. She has family plus close friends in town; and says the group will help on many levels.

“No one should have to fight cancer alone. Our community is in need of Sisters in Cancer to help with this difficult time. When I was going through the disease, despite having a wonderful support system I still felt really alone, because as much as people around me were empathetic, they didn't understand what exactly I was going through, only a cancer patient can understand the pain and suffering of another one. Through my experience I realized how important it is to have support in place during this tough situation.”

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, an estimated 220,400 new cases of cancer and 82,100 deaths from cancer will occur in Canada in 2019; 107,400 Canadian women will be diagnosed with cancer and 38,700 women will die from the ailment. It is the leading cause of death in Canada and is responsible for 30% of all deaths.

Following the open house, monthly meetings for Sisters in Cancer will be held at the Eagle Ridge YMCA as well on the second Wednesday of every month.

“This will be a safe place for women to share experiences, stories, laugh together with hope and to comfort each other’s fears just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a peer to peer support group open to any cancer patient, not just breast cancer. We do not provide medical advice, nor is this a substitute for counselling or psychiatric care.”

“During our open house the members will be introduced to our team, we will share our expectations, and gauge interest on how participants would like to proceed. We are planning to host yoga sessions, light physical activities, and guest speakers at future meetings. Since this is a peer to peer group, it will formulate according to its members.”

Those looking to donate their services to help with future sessions can email Sundas via


Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.