A cancer support group is not exclusive for patients who are going through treatment or under recovery, but anyone who has been affected by the disease in any way can join. Joining a support group has many benefits. Apart from the assistance which the patient gets from family members and friends; a support group is different because you get to be around people who are going through the same experience. Many researchers have shown that patients who joined a support group had improved their quality of life as well as increased chances of survival. Some of the things you can expect from a cancer support group are:
- You will feel more hopeful and combat feelings of depression
- You can talk about how you feel in a safe environment
- Get advice and practical tips on how to deal with everyday problems such as concerns with school or work
- Other members in the support group can help you cope with the problematic side effects of treatment
Support groups also come in different set-ups and hosted by both private and government organizations.
Different types of cancer support groups
There are support groups that cater to patients battling all kinds of cancer, while there are groups that are specific to only one type such as breast cancer. There are also some groups that are organised for particular demographics, like children or teenage patients.
- Online support group. An online cancer support group application will give the patient access to join meetings facilitated over the internet. These meetings can be through chat rooms, social media platforms, and webinars. What’s great about an online group is that you can join meetings anytime of the day or at night if there is one available. The patient has more flexibility to choose a convenient schedule, and you will not have to leave the comfort of your home during days when you feel weak. Since not all these online support groups are monitored, it is best to check the background of the organization and consult your doctor first before joining.
- Telephone support groups. This set-up is where patients from different locations can dial a dedicated phone line and join a conference call to share experiences and talk to other people going through similar concerns.
Apart from these two options, support groups are also available in hospitals, community centers, and even schools organize cancer support groups.
Is joining a support group good for every cancer patient?
Joining a cancer support group is not always for everyone. There are times when a patient does not feel comfortable sharing personal stories with strangers. In some instances, listening to the stories of other people can become more burdensome. Nevertheless, you can always gauge and give support groups a chance. You can attend a few sessions and find a group that you like. There are smaller groups where meetings are more personal and intimate.
Cancer support groups can be structured differently and finding one that suits you may take some time. If you are willing to take the chance and open up about your experiences, ask for referrals from your doctor or from the cancer treatment center you go to.