Kathleen Coyne, director of Philadelphia's Cancer Support Community (formerly the Wellness Center), directed us to the most helpful groups, beginning with her own organization (www.cancersupport-phila.org).

Open to Options, a service of CSC, is a crucial tool for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. The one-time, one-hour counseling session can be done in person or by phone to prepare a woman for the talks she'll have with her doctor to plan her treatment.

The session "really lessens the distress and anxiety" of those first meetings with the doctor, said Coyne. Open to Options provides women with decision-making tools - including the right questions to ask their doctor - to make them partners in their treatment.

Other CSC programs for women with breast cancer:

A monthly support group for women with advanced (Stage 4) breast cancer meets the fourth Tuesday of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the community's home, 4100 Chamounix Dr., Fairmount Park.

CSC partners with the Young Survival Coalition (www.youngsurvival.org) for a networking meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month. This group is for women under 40 with breast cancer.

On the second Tuesday of each month, also from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the Young Survival Coalition and CSC facilitate a separate support group for young women with metastatic breast cancer, to address the their specific needs.

BreastCancer.org (www.breastcancer.org) is the most reliable and up-to-date source of information, Coyne said. She always directs women there first.

Living Beyond Breast Cancer (www.lbbc.org), a locally-based group, gives face-to-face support, along with teleconferences, and a newsletter.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition (www.pabreastcancer.org) helps underserved women, especially the uninsured.

Mercy Philadelphia Hospital (www.mercyhealth.org), 501 S. 45th St., has several support groups, including the Sisters Supporting Sisters Breast Cancer Group, which focuses on African American women. It meets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. every third Tuesday at the hospital. 215-748-9411.

Men Against Breast Cancer (menagainstbreastcancer.org) educates men who are in relationships with women with breast cancer.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation (www.ibcresearch.org) provides treatment options and support. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but aggressive form of cancer.

American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org), Coyne said, updates its support resources every six months so help is there when patients need it.