NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - It's a place for breast cancer survivors 40 and under to share their experiences. But the platform is not in person—it's online.
"The women are young and this is a platform they're used to. They're used to Skyping with their friends, they're used to FaceTime," social worker Erin Nau said. "So through the online platform, it's something they're comfortable with."
Nau is the counseling and education coordinator for the Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program in Garden City, Long Island. She started the online support group a few weeks ago. It is believed to be the first of its kind in New York.
"They're just starting their careers, they have brand-new families, they're newly married," Nau said, "and coming actually to a support group in person just would not work for them."
While research has shown that in-person support groups can be helpful to women coping with breast cancer, sometimes traveling isn't easy.
"We had a group of women who met from all different places," Nau said. "One of them was on vacation right before her surgery, one of them was chasing her 2-year-old around, and one of them called from the hospital—she was getting a checkup but she wanted to be there for the other women."
Fewer than 5 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the U.S. occur in women under 40, according to the American Cancer Society. But social workers at the Adelphi hotline report an increased call volume from this population.
"Anything that makes it easier for people to find someone to talk to, I think is important," said Sharon Stanley, a former support group participant.
The group that meets from the comfort of their own home on Tuesday nights has five participants so far. Nau is hoping for more. And while she is not a survivor herself, she is connecting those who are.
"They start as being really scared," Nau said. "Once they've gone through everything, they're helping other women."
To register for a support group, call the hotline at 800-877-8077 or Erin Nau at 516-877-4314. To donate to or volunteer with the program, visit breast-cancer.adelphi.edu/support-us.