2014 will see the inception of a men’s cancer support group in Ellis County.
The group is being formed by John Wyckoff, who was diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer three years ago. After treatment that included surgery and radiation, Wyckoff’s cancer remains in remission; however, his experience has reinforced for him the importance of having a support system.
“I think men are more apt not to want to talk about it,” Wyckoff said, saying the group will provide a welcoming atmosphere where men can talk freely. “There’s a women’s cancer support group here in Ellis County, but there isn’t one for men. The nearest cancer support group for men meets in Dallas.
“I believe we need something here where men can share their experiences with each other,” said Wyckoff, who inquired about a support group after experiencing side effects two years after the radiation treatments ended.
With that purpose in mind, Wyckoff recently approached Baylor Medical Center-Waxahachie staff member Denell Flores, who oversees the local women’s group.
“John came to me and was looking for guidance on how to start a support group for men,” Flores said. “He knew I had started one for breast cancer survivors.”
As did the women’s group, the men’s group will form under the umbrella of Baylor’s ministerial alliance, which provides a set of basic guidelines for setting up a community-based support group.
“The guidelines let you know about group etiquette, what to expect, how to listen to each other and respect each other,” Flores said. “You’re all there to help each other and learn from each other.”
The breast cancer support group started with six participants at its first meeting and has grown in its first year to where it’s averaging from 10 to 20 at its monthly meetings, said Flores, who notes that she’s had a number of physicians in Ellis County tell her there’s a need for a comparable men’s support group.
“There are men wanting that type of support from other men, where they can sit and talk with each other, with a peer, with someone’s who’s gone through that type of thing,” she said.
Unlike the women’s support group, which focuses on breast cancer patients and survivors, the men’s group will serve males age 18 and older who have been diagnosed with any type of cancer. The group will serve as a venue for members to share their experiences, ideas, new information and helpful tips for handling the challenges that come their way as well as allow them to hear from guest speakers.
“I view cancer as always with you,” said Wyckoff, who describes himself as “still dumbfounded” by his diagnosis, especially with no history of cancer in his family. “You never know what the future will bring. The layperson that I was five years ago would have thought that if someone’s in remission, everything is wonderful. Remission, however, doesn’t mean that everything is fine.
“I want to be able to help and I’m hoping if I can share what I have gone through and hear from other men, there can be help for both sides,” said Wyckoff, who believes he’ll learn from others as they discuss their different experiences.
Plans are for the group to meet one evening a month for about an hour each time in the beginning. Those men interested in becoming a part of the group can contact Wyckoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-351-6404 for more information.