A breast cancer support group's first meeting, sponsored by the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, is Tuesday.

The meeting is part of the "I Can Cope" program, and is open to anyone who has been affected by breast cancer - including patients, family and friends. Tuesday's meeting is the first of several, which will be held on the last Tuesday of every month.

Dr. Robert Birdwell, an oncologist at Texas Oncology-Beaumont Mamie McFaddin Ward Cancer Center, said the meeting is supposed to be educational and also should offer emotional support to women with breast cancer.

The support group is open to people at all stages of their diagnosis, he said, and hopefully will give patients peace knowing other people are going through similar situations.

Newly-diagnosed patients can talk to others about treatment processes, people who are going through chemotherapy and radiation can talk to other patients about dealing with the side effects and survivors can talk to other survivors about their emotions and feelings, he said.

"I think also learning how to deal with this and...knowing more about the treatments and side effects empowers you to fight it better and that relieves the stress, too," Birdwell, who will speak at Tuesday's meeting, said. "Studies have shown there is definitely a reduction in stress, and women's coping ability is improved with this."

Tuesday's meeting will be at the Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital Outpatient Pavilion, 755 North 11th St., from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. To find out about future meetings, call the American Cancer Society at 1 (800) 227-2345 (option No. 4) for meeting times and locations.

For more information, visit christushospital.org/icancope