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VALLEY FOCUS | Valleywide

Groups Offer Advice for Handling Cancer

October 02, 1998|MICHAEL BAKER

Finding out Mom or Dad, or a grandparent, has cancer can be especially hard for young children, causing them to act out, become depressed or withdraw from others.

To help children cope with the cancer of an older family member, the Wellness Community Valley / Ventura and the American Cancer Society have joined forces to create special support groups for youngsters ages 5 to 12.

Kids Circle, along with the similar Parents Circle, will meet on four consecutive Saturdays beginning this weekend. The needs of teenagers will be addressed in a third program called Teen Networking Group.

"This is the second time we've offered the programs this year," program coordinator Joyce Boucher said. "Results have been excellent. Parents said one of the most important things they and their children learned was removing the dread from thinking or talking about cancer in the family."

The children, divided into different age groups, learn coping strategies through art, music, play and discussion, said Susan Friedman, a business manager at the Wellness Foundation. "It's just really inspiring to see these children come out of their shell."

Each group session is run by licensed counselors and is geared toward the individuals in the group, Friedman said.

Kids Circle and Parents Circle meet from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Wellness Community, 530 Hampshire Road, Westlake Village. For more information on the two circle groups, as well as the Teen Networking Group, call (805) 379-4777.

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