Why Are They So Valuable?
Support groups for cancer bring together people who have been through a similar experience – being diagnosed with cancer. They provide a safe place to share information and discuss ways to cope with the challenges following a cancer diagnosis. Many people who are diagnosed with cancer find that it is helpful to join a support group. They find it is a good place to share experiences and feelings in a caring environment. Also, people often say they can relax, joke and just be themselves in a cancer support group.
Typically, these groups are led by psychologists, social workers, nurses and medical professionals. A group member may also lead the group. The leader of a group should have some type of training before taking charge of a support group.
Groups can be held in hospitals, churches, community centers or even cafes. Some groups meet for a certain number of weeks, or the program can be ongoing; some have closed membership and others are open to new, drop-in members.
Support groups for cancer are for anyone affected by cancer, including individuals diagnosed with cancer, partners and spouses, other family members, and friends. Some of the topics that are talked about in these groups include: coping with cancer diagnosis and treatment, living with cancer and the changes to your everyday life, dealing with your emotions, and the emotions of your family. Some groups may also offer special seminars and programs, guest speakers, social outings, newsletters, telephone calls, hospital and home visits.
Being a part of support groups for cancer can be beneficial in many ways. They provide an opportunity to:
- Enjoy a sense of belonging, and a chance to learn from others
- Obtain support for people coping with a cancer diagnosis and treatment
- Increase your knowledge about cancer
- Learn how to enjoy life after cancer
- Increase your sense of control dealing with cancer
- Reduce feelings of isolation
Some groups provide support for a variety of cancers or for a certain type of cancer. Other groups may meet the needs of a certain language, culture or gender group. Most support groups meet face to face, however for those who live in remote areas, have difficulty leaving the home or those who just prefer to participate in the comfort of their own home, there are telephone and internet groups. Internet groups can also be in the form of a forum, such as an ovarian cancer forum.
Choosing when to take part in a support group is important. Some find it difficult to join support groups for cancer when they are first diagnosed. The stories that other patients may share, after months or even years of treatment, can be overwhelming and upsetting. If you try a group and it doesn’t feel right, you may want to try again later or try another group.
With regards to finding support groups for cancer, your cancer treatment centre should be able to provide you with the names of local support groups you may want to join. Here is a small list of organizations that list or provide support groups for cancer, including a couple specifically for ovarian cancer.
No matter which type of cancer support you choose, remember that emotional support and care is just as important as physical care. You don’t have to feel isolated when having cancer. Maintaining a positive outlook on life and being optimistic is the goal of support groups, which makes the cancer journey a lot easier.