A cancer diagnosis is scary and stressful, both for cancer patients and their loved ones. Joining a support group can help you cope with cancer. As a cancer support group member, you’ll be among others who understand what you’re going through, giving you a safe and supportive space to work through your feelings and feel more in control of your situation.
The Benefits of Joining a Cancer Support Group
There are numerous benefits to joining a cancer support group:
- Shared experiences. Support groups connect you with people who are also dealing with cancer. They understand what you’re going through and the challenges you’re facing.
- A new community. Living with cancer can be lonely. Joining a support group is an opportunity to expand your social network and forge new friendships.
- A place to speak. Cancer support groups provide a safe and welcoming space to talk about your fears, concerns, and hopes for the future. Being able to speak freely and openly can take an emotional weight off your shoulders, especially if you feel unable to speak candidly with friends or family members.
- Practical support. Your fellow group members will understand the practical realities of living with cancer and recommend helpful resources and strategies to apply to your own situation. These may include managing work or school demands, what to expect from treatments, or how best to communicate with your care team.
Patients, caretakers, and family members alike can all benefit from cancer support groups.
Types of Groups and How to Find Them
There are many different types of cancer support groups. Some offer general support for all types of cancer, while others focus on a specific type or stage of cancer. Some are specifically for individuals with cancer, while others are open to young people, family members, caretakers, and survivors. There are also informational groups that focus on providing cancer-related education.
The format of the support group can also vary. Online groups may take place through Skype or Zoom or may use a chat room, email, or discussion board format. These options are invaluable for people unable to travel, who live in rural areas, or who require flexibility around meeting times. These groups tend to be peer-led, but trained social workers or psychologists may lead some.
In-person groups are often held at hospitals and clinics, churches, community centers, or shared community spaces such as libraries or parks. They can be small or large and can be led by group members, counselors or social workers, or medical experts. You are not required to attend every meeting.
To find a cancer support group, talk to your care team at your clinic or hospital, search online for groups in your area, or browse the National Cancer Institute’s list of support groups. When choosing a group, think about the type of support you need and the format you’re most comfortable with. While many people find cancer support groups beneficial, some prefer to seek individual counseling or try other ways to connect with people, such as through hobbies.
At Southwestern Women’s Oncology and Health, we’re here for our patients every step along the way, including providing suggestions for cancer support groups and other coping mechanisms. For more information about our care or to make an appointment, contact us today.