First-of-its-kind gynecological cancer support group coming to South Texas

By Ellie Holmes - News Producer

SAN ANTONIO - A new resource for women with gynecological cancers will start in San Antonio next week.

Jessica Romero, a mother of three with cervical cancer, believes this resource is much-needed. 

"Family and friends don't understand how you're scared every day; you don't know what's coming next," she said. "People will make new friends (and) be able to just call up somebody and say, 'Hey, I'm not having such a good day. Can you talk me through it?'"

"Purple Heals" is the brainchild of Dr. Georgia McCann, an oncologist with UT Health San Antonio. It was inspired by patients she had as she grew her new practice. The woman was 20 years old and a young mother. McCann said the patient did any treatment necessary to make sure she'd keep living. 

"I started to meet other women struggling with the idea of cancer or losing hair in chemo or having to take chemotherapy at all," she said. "I would ask her if she could independently talk to this patient and when those patients came back to me, they were grateful to have her to talk to."

Gynecological cancers are defined as any cancer of the female reproductive tract, which includes the ovaries, the cervix, the uterus, the vagina and the vulva. On average, McCann said 23,000 women are diagnosed with these cancers per year. On average, 14,000 to 15,000 of women living with these cancers will die per year. 

These cancers, she said, are experienced differently because patients are only women.

"Sometimes the treatment results in disfigurement, it affects the sex function, overall mood, outward appearance, and so I think by definition it has more of an impact than other cancers," she said.

She said, in general, morale in her patients was better when someone was there for patients to talk to. 

"I think it's lifesaving," she said. "The treatments that these women have to go through are very intense and very difficult to tolerate."

Romero has high hopes for the group, too. 

"It is very scary, and being able to hold on to somebody who's going through the same thing as you, it's going to be a great thing."

Both McCann and Romero hope this group grows enough to support women across South Texas and also help bring awareness to these cancers.

Purple Heals launches April 19. The group will meet every third Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Medical Arts and Research Building, 8300 Floyd Curl Drive. 

People can visit their website or call 210-450-9500 for more information.

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