New breast cancer support group forms
When Elaine Taaffe was going through breast cancer treatment last year, she needed some encouragement, someone to talk to, someone who had been through what she was facing.
"There wasn't anyone to reach out to. I contacted the hospital here in town to see if there was a support group because I had questions," the long-time Prineville resident recalls. She was told she could talk to her doctors and social workers. "But I didn't want to have to keep going back and forth to Bend, especially after my radiation and everything I went through. I wanted somebody here in town."
Taaffe underwent a lumpectomy on March 1, 2017, after finding a lump in December.
"I had six weeks of radiation, and it burnt my skin," Taaffe said.
She yearned for someone to confide in.
A couple months ago, she posted to the Prineville, Crook County - Your Voice Our Community Facebook page, saying she was looking for a breast cancer support group in Prineville and would love to talk to others who have gone through it.
Her post lit up with responses, several chiming in, sharing their breast cancer stories and also wanting a support group. Others suggested that Taaffe start her own support group.
She quickly created the Prineville Breast Cancer Support Facebook page and began adding members.
Someone suggested meeting at The Hub on a Friday morning. It was arranged, and several women showed up for the first meeting of the Prineville Breast Cancer Support Group on June 8.
They met again earlier this month and named themselves the Bosom Buddies.
"Low and behold, we're up to 15 members right now, and there's more people out there, and that's who we're trying to reach out to," Taaffe said.
The group will meet again on Friday, Aug. 10 from 10 to 11 a.m. at Prineville Christian Church.
"It's growing, and we're going to need more room," Taaffe said of the location change.
They will continue to meet the second Friday of each month.
"We want to be there for support, information, education through their diagnosis, treatment and the recovery process. We want to be there for them because there are a lot of questions that you don't get answered," Taaffe said, noting that the members are all in different phases of their cancer treatment. "It's just nice to be able to talk to other ladies who are going through the same thing that you are."
Teresa Rodriguez was in on the original Facebook post a couple months ago and quickly joined the group. She became an administrator of their Facebook group and made it private.
"The page is now closed so that we can have those conversations that you don't want your family to know all the nitty-gritty details," Rodriguez said. "You don't want to put that out to the world, and so we're able to have those conversations on Facebook."
Rodriguez found a lump in her breast the day before she was scheduled to have hip replacement surgery in February of last year.
"I got through my hip replacement, and then I went to the doctor for the lump, and everything moved very quickly from there," she recalls.
In April of 2017, she was diagnosed with infiltrating ductal carcinoma and chose to have a bilateral mastectomy.
"They said that I was at this point cancer free. I'm on medications to make sure that it doesn't metastasize somewhere else in my body," she said.
Throughout her multiple surgeries, Rodriguez has continued to serve as a Prineville City Councilor and on the NeighborImpact board as well as run a trucking business and a home-based bookkeeping business.
"When I was going through all of my treatments and everything, I was going to Bend anywhere from two to five times a week for doctors," Rodriguez said. "A support group was available in Bend, and I just didn't want to drive to Bend for one more thing. The support group was kind of low priority on my list. It would have been helpful, but I was just exhausted. "
She's glad for the new Crook County support group.
"It's turned out to be a great thing because you have local people in your community that have been through similar situations – nobody's situation is exactly the same — but there's a lot that we're learning from each other," Rodriguez said.
She said the group is especially good for those who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.
"It would be wonderful for them to attend because there are things that I wish I would have known that I didn't, that the doctors just don't tell you," she said.
The members also share supplies, such as support and compression bras, prosthetics and pillows. They talk about an estrogen-killer medication that many of them must take and compare notes about the side effects.
Several of the members will walk during Crook County Relay For Life next weekend at the Crook County Fairgrounds, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
Shahalie Peters, the 11-year-old daughter of Rodriguez's best friend, was pretty shook up about Rodriguez's cancer diagnosis. She heard about Relay For Life and started a team, The Warriors. They've raised more than $1,000 and so far have five members.
Taaffe has joined the Pam's Angels team and will also walk at Relay For Life.
Perhaps next year, the Bosom Buddies will have their own Relay For Life team.
Taaffe said the group is an amazing bunch of ladies, who, although they are all in different stages and are all going through different treatments, can share their struggles.
"We have all come out stronger and continue the fight," Taaffe said.
Meets the second Friday of each month at 10 a.m. at Prineville Christian Church, 1685 SE Lynn Blvd.
Facebook: Prineville Breast Cancer Support
Phone: Elaine Taaffe, 541-420-2110 or Teresa Rodriguez, 541-420-9392