North Reading resident Heather LoRe, diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2008, founded the Hope and Friendship Metastatic Stage IV Breast Cancer Support Group for Men and Women.
LoRe, a North Reading realtor and nurse practitioner, founded the group in October of 2010. She is a member herself, along with another North Reading resident and residents from Chelmsford, Groveland, Tewksbury, Andover and North Andover. There is “not a group like ours anywhere around here specifically for those with Stage lV Metastatic Breast Cancer. The closest one is in Harvard, Massachusetts," LoRe said.
The group meets every other week on Wednesday mornings in Middleton. They originally had 11 members, but six "beloved" members passed away within the first 18 months.
"We lost three to breast cancer, one to medical negligence, and two to side effects of treatment", LoRe said. "A lot of people think we die only from breast cancer, but there are a lot of other things that are dangerous to us as well."
The group, currently back up to seven members, is for men and women of all ages that are struggling with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.
"Our group is about caring, supportive and confidential gatherings," LoRe said, "And we are also very proactive in the management of our care."
The group has featured music therapy, laugh therapy and artistic therapy. They are focused on educational events and retreats, and also enjoy meeting time together and potluck lunches.
LoRe is working on getting their foundation, Hope and Friendship Metastatic Stage IV Breast Cancer Foundation for Men and Women, into a non-profit status so she and her members can hold fundraising events. The money raised would be used specifically for metastatic patients and research, as most of the money raised for breast cancer currently goes to those diagnosed in the early stages, LoRe said.
The money raised from their fundraising efforts will also support group members in need. The group currently has a member who had to retire from nursing after 30 years due to the disease and she was forced to claim bankruptcy. Another member was on hospice and was unable to get outside due to being confined to her wheelchair. To fulfill her request and ensure that she was able to experience the outdoors during the last weeks of her life, each group member chipped in to have a ramp built onto her house.
The group will also use money from fundraising to provide scholarships for educational opportunities such as attending the Annual National Metastatic Breast Cancer Network Conference in Chicago.
LoRe recently acquired a Federal Tax ID Number for the foundation and is waiting to meet with Secretary of State, William Francis Galvin, for final approval to become a non-profit organization.
If you are interested in joining this group, or would like additional information, please contact Group Facilitator Marie Lucca at 978-887-0103 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.