When Dr. Jay Burton was battling blood cancer in 2010, he found that his medical background helped him handle many challenges on his own.
"One of the reasons I am still here is because I'm a doctor," said Burton, who lives in Longmeadow, Mass. "I knew who to ask and what to ask."
Burton, 55, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, has been in remission since his first round of chemotherapy in 2010. He is now part of a new Enfield Senior Center support group that helps others coping with blood cancers.
The program is part of the Primary Care Cancer Survivorship Program of Western New England that his private practice, Springfield Medical Associates, sponsors. Burton works out of the practice's Enfield office.
"When I was going through [cancer] I was doing my own primary care," Burton said. "I'm thorough and meticulous and that's how I handled my own care."
The Enfield blood-cancer support group, which first met Dec. 4, is a spinoff of a similar group established in Agawam, Mass., a few years ago. Beginning with its next meeting scheduled in February, the local group will meet at the Enfield Senior Center on the first Thursday of each month from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
"We're looking to give emotional support for [patients] and their families and caregivers and make them aware of the medical resources," Burton said. "As a result, it will enrich their lives."
What makes the Springfield Medical Associates support groups unique, he said, is that they are functioning inside a private practice. Typically, Burton said, cancer support groups are held at hospitals or cancer centers.
Blood cancers affect the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system. The support group provides information and help for those dealing with all kinds of blood cancers. Burton said he attends the groups as both a cancer survivor and a resource of medical knowledge, but doesn't run the groups or act as a facilitator. Two facilitators, usually a licensed social worker and a nurse or cancer survivor, manage the groups.
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