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Prostate cancer support group adjusts to COVID-19 conditions

When COVID-19 forced the Prostate Cancer Support Association of New Mexico (PCSANM) to suspend office hours and its regular twice-monthly group meetings, the 29-year-old group found itself with an unexpected challenge: change its business model.

PCSANM, a 501(c)(3) organization, has been involved forging personal relationships in the form of cancer survivors and just-diagnosed men, and often their family members.

“We’re adjusting to what’s happening,” said Rod Geer, a PCSANM board member. “We need to evolve in order to provide the most beneficial support possible despite pandemic-imposed changes. After all, about one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.”

So, although the office doors aren’t actually open, the phone (505-254-7784 or 1-800-278-7678 toll free) is staffed 24/7 with on-call board members.

Twice-monthly group meetings held for many years at a local senior center and generally attended by up to 30 interested men, and often members of their families, are now done virtually.

“Participant numbers aren’t yet what they were when we could gather in a tight circle of chairs, but new faces are appearing,” Geer said. “Talking about personal things like your cancer and its side effects while looking into a computer screen while looking at faces in small boxes takes some adjusting.”

A buddy list – a collection of men who have had various forms of treatment in recent years and who are willing and eager to talk on the phone with others about prostate cancer and their treatments – also is being updated.

The group’s just-published quarterly newsletter – effectively the COVID-19 edition – is now on the PCSANM website, pcsanm.org.

In addition to the latest prostate cancer news, it offers comments from some support group members on how they’ve been impacted by COVID-19.

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