California: New Group for HIVers With Lymphoma

A new emotional and practical support group for HIV patients with lymphoma will meet every third Wednesday in San Francisco. The group will help patients cope with the anxiety associated with diagnosis and symptoms; in addition, it will be a forum for sharing treatment and medication experiences. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society-sponsored group is free and links newly diagnosed patients with trained survivors who are familiar with LLS services.

While many HIV patients with lymphoma may be open to discussing their illness, treatment, and fears, the group was formed especially to respect the confidentiality needs of people with HIV. It is not limited to the gay community.

"It's a total surprise to many people who are high-functioning and all of a sudden now have to put life on hold for six months to get aggressive treatment," said Nancy Levy, a University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) clinical social worker in hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplants, and the group's co-facilitator. In addition to helping members organize an informal transportation network for hospital appointments, the group can help patients cope with changing relationships and communicating with family and friends. Tom Leahy, a social worker and registered nurse at UCSF's bone marrow transplant unit, will co-facilitate the group. Leahy worked at San Francisco General Hospital's Ward 86 from the mid-1990s through 2003.

The support group starts Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 1390 Market St., Ste. 1200, at 6 p.m. and is seeking patient input. "It's their support group," Leahy said. "It's not a nursing lecture." For more information, telephone Leahy at 415-353-2220 or Levy at 415-353-1304.