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      Texas Tech Health Sciences Center looks to help breast cancer survivors

      Over the years, we've brought you a number of stories about breast cancer, from prevention to detection, it's been one of the top subjects in the field of medicine.

      But what happens after the fight? Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is looking at a brand new program at Texas Tech that focuses on coping with the disease.

      Breast cancer has been a major topic of research at Texas Health University Health Sciences Center, and while the main focus nationally has been on detection and prevention, a few year ago, they started contemplating the fight that wages after the fight with cancer.

      Dealing with cancer, the treatment along with other factors can take it's toll and often times the road back isn't an easy one. So researchers started looking at the mechanism of coping.

      Texas Tech Health Sciences Center is looking at a new coping program designed to work with survivors, family and friend after the fact.

      Doctors say there are a number of factors, such as treatments, age and severity that play into post-treatment care.

      Dr. Rakhshanda Rahman says there are four main factors determining how patients cope. Their treatment, their stage of cancer, the time after diagnosis and their age. Interestingly, younger patients had a harder time with coping.

      "Some of the physical toll is devastating but more importantly how they're not able to handle it and talk about it and develop some coping skills to try and control what they can and realize what they cannot...and thats where the change cycle comes in."

      This new coping skills class is being introduced through a grant by Sharon Felts, the grants manager at the Breast Center of Excellence located at Tech. A breast cancer survivor, she's hoping helping others face the changes and cope is reflected in what she herself went through.

      "Raising awareness to help them know what they're feeling is perfectly normal and natural and this is what I'm supposed to be feeling and I don't have to keep feeling this way," Felts said.

      More than 3,000 breast cancer survivors call the Panhandle area home and it's this group that being asked to participate in these classes that they hope will become part of a nation-wide criteria hat deal with coping.

      "I think this will make such an impact for the families of breast cancer survivors..." added Felts.

      Texas ranks 4th in the nation when it comes to detected breast cancer and it's their hope that initiating this type of program will help heal the scars that can't be seen for survivors, family and friends.

      For more information on the new program, call Texas Tech at 356-4659.