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Vandenberg starts cancer support group

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

To help ease the journey of those who face cancer, the “Lean on Me” cancer support group will meet on the fourth Tuesday of every month, at 1 p.m., in the 30th Medical Group.

Stacy Jacobs, 30th Medical Group appointment clerk, developed the support group to provide Vandenberg cancer patients, their families and survivors a network of resources available on the installation.

The program is available base wide to include military members, families, retirees, contractors and civil service employees. Anyone with base access may attend the support group.

“Treatments do not only include the patient and their physician, there’s a whole team involved,” said Maj. Stephen Edstrom, 30th Medical Group chief of medical staff. “We will introduce the group to the teams and what they bring to the table to provide a better understanding of cancer treatment.”

The program aims to educate the group on the many resources available throughout the installation. The support group will bring specialists like psychologists to talk about the mental health aspects of cancer treatment. The health and wellness center will speak on the benefits of nutrition and exercise. The program will also reach out to the Airman and Family Readiness Center for their many available resources to families.

"All cancer is different and you go through unique situations, but we all go through the same emotions and hardships," Jacobs said. “I was diagnosed with cancer almost three years ago. Even though you get through it, it is always going to be a part of your life. Starting this program was something that I always wanted. It is nice to have something more accessible to us, and we’re finally getting it done.”

Another goal of the program aims to educate patients enough to allow them to become their own best advocate.

“This is a way for the patients to take control of their own healthcare and to really understand what is going on,” said Edstrom. “Ultimately, we want to improve the outcome by them knowing what resources are available to better treat the patients. We want patients to be aware and understand what the best choices are. We have a lot of resources available to help navigate a very complex medical system.”

The program offers patients and their families a way to meet others who have gone through similar situations. 

“The cancer patients and their families are not alone," said Jacobs. “We are here to support you and get you what you need. This is something that doesn’t have to be done alone. There is lots of support if you want it.”

For more information on the “Lean on Me” cancer support group, contact Stacy Jacobs at 805-606-7707.