Are you thinking about joining a cancer support group? Are you living with cancer? Are you worried about the physical, emotional, and psychological implications of having cancer? Do you need guidance on how to live a positive life even with cancer? Do you know someone who can benefit from joining a cancer support group? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone, and this article is for you.
Hi. My name is Sean Galla. I have been facilitating online support groups, including cancer support groups, for more than 10 years. In my years as a facilitator, I have seen firsthand how important support groups can be in anyone’s life. By joining a cancer support group, you improve your chances of living a happy and fulfilling life despite your condition.
In this article, I will be talking about cancer support groups and information about living with cancer.
Table of Contents:
What Is a Cancer Support Group?
A cancer support group is a type of meeting for people who share similar experiences like living with cancer or anyone affected by the disease. Whether it is breast cancer, including metastatic breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer or a cancerous brain tumor, getting a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most challenging news to bear for anyone. Joining a cancer support group can make it easier for you to take the news and find avenues to get cancer treatment, clinical trials and learn about survivorship in your locality.
There are many benefits associated with joining Cancer support groups. Even though you are likely to get support and help from your family members and loved ones after a diagnosis, it is not possible for them to understand exactly what you are going through if they have never had cancer. A cancer support group brings you in contact with other cancer patients or cancer survivors. This ensures they understand what you are going through from firsthand experience.
According to research, joining a support group can improve your quality of life and improve your chances of survival. Being part of a support group:
- Helps you feel less alone, better and hopeful
- Gives you an opportunity to vent, express your feelings and process the emotions after a diagnosis
- Gives you practical solutions to different issues related to cancer.
- Makes it easier for you to cope with the side effects of cancer treatment.
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Is a Support Group Right for Me?
Before committing to a support group, it is important to consider whether or not you are comfortable talking about your personal issues to a group of people. Also, consider what you stand to gain from joining a support group for people living with cancer.
Bottom line, whether you join a private breast cancer support group or a general cancer support group, joining a support group is one of the best ways to cope with a cancer diagnosis. There are many emotions involved when you learn that you have cancer, and during the treatment period. Being around people who completely understand can make the burden of the disease more bearable.
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Benefits of Joining a Support Group
Sharing the common experience of having cancer with other support groups members means that you share similar feelings, everyday problems, worries, treatment options and treatment side effects. This ensures you are amongst people who fully understand what you are going through, which fosters patience with one another and understanding of each other’s issues.
The benefits of being part of a cancer support group include:
- Feeling if belonging which prevents loneliness, isolations and feat of judgment.
- Stress reduction, preventing depression, anxiety or fatigue
- Ability to speak openly about your feelings, mood, and thoughts.
- Adapting skills that help to cope with challenges brought about by cancer.
- Getting motivations to stick to your treatment and live through the side effects of cancer therapy.
- Gaining hope, a sense of empowerment and control of your condition.
- Improving your understanding of your condition and available treatment options.
- Gaining knowledge about your health, social and economic resources for cancer management.
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Types of Support Groups
There are tens of different types of cancers, meaning there are tons of different cancer support groups. Some support groups allow participation from people living with different types of cancers, while other groups are specific to a type of cancer like women with breast cancer or men with prostate cancer. Some groups are age-specific like young-adult support groups or cater to a particular culture, religion or sex.
There are also support groups that offer emotional support to caregivers to cancer patients, whether you are a social worker or part of a cancer care team. These types of groups also provide caregiver support to family members and help them to transition based on the changes brought about by a diagnosis. These types of groups focus on addressing concerns about role changes in the home, relationships changes, financial constraints and supporting the person with cancer.
Regardless of the type of cancer support group, they all fall under two categories; online and offline support groups.
Offline support groups
These cancer support groups and programs meet regularly in person at determined locations. This can be in cancer centers, hospitals, religious places, or social halls. There are hundreds of in-person cancer support meetups in different localities. A simple search online will give you access to cancer support groups near you.
The main disadvantage of offline cancer support groups is that you only get a chance to share when there is a meeting. This makes it hard for the members to get support outside the meeting schedule.
Online support groups
These cancer support groups take place online or through the internet. In these types of groups, members meet in virtual char rooms, webinars, social media, or video conferencing. The best benefit of online cancer support groups is that you can join a meeting at any time, day or night. The chat groups and discussion forums are always ingoing to ensure there is help available at all times.
Online support group are also ideal for people who are not able to travel for physical meeting because of financial, physical or location limitations, especially in these covid pandemic. Cancer organizations and support services sponsor some online cancer support groups while others are self-sponsored like mensgroup.com.
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How to Find a Support Group
You can get information/referral about cancer support programs from different avenues. They include:
- Recommendations from your doctor’s oncology department and healthcare professionals
- Nonprofit groups that advocate for special medical conditions and life changes
- National institutes of health websites for cancer research and diagnosis
- The American cancer society
- Cancer support and treatment centers in your locality
Recommendations for the Best Cancer Support Groups
This cancer support group offers care and help to cancer patients, the family of cancer patients, and friends of cancer patients. These support groups are free to join and available to all cancer patients, whether they are getting treatment at UCSF or not. They have general cancer support groups for people with cancer in all stages, advanced breast cancer support groups, bladder cancer educations and support group, blood cancer support group and colorectal cancer support groups among many others.
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Pancreatic cancer is scary to the patient and his loved ones. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network moderates a support group for people with pancreatic cancer. You can get support from this network through in-person meetings, online support meetings, over the phone support and one-on-one support. The network keeps an up to date list of all pancreatic support groups throughout America.
Breastcancer.org is a support group for people living with breast cancer. This group connects you with other people living with breast cancer at a time when you may be feeling isolated or alone. It also has a wealth of resource that can give you valuable information about breast cancer treatment options, diagnosis and care. It hosts events that empower members of the community to seek and get help after a diagnosis.
As a man, learning you have cancer can be one of the most stressful times of your life. Men try to hide their emotions, stress and pain from their loved ones to avoid causing panic or hopelessness. If you recently got a diagnosis of cancer, mensgroup.com is a men-only support group that offers help to men living with cancer. As an online platform, you can join cancer support group meetings from anywhere in the world and connect with other men who understand.
As a man, you do not have to go through cancer treatment or remission on your own. Joining Men’s Group will connect with you other cancer survivors and other men living with cancer. You can get helpful advice on how to cope with changes at home, work and in your life in general. Men in mensgroup will give you useful cancer information like dealing with the side effects of chemo or other cancer treatments.
You do not have to live through a cancer ordeal on your own. Mensgroup.com is a cancer support community that connects you with like-minded men who understand and share your cancer experience in a safe place online, especially in this coronavirus pandemic. You can get additional information by visiting the website.
When not addressed, the stigma of living with cancer can take a toll on your emotions, self-esteem, and relationships. It is important to get involved in a support group for people living with cancer to be able to learn more about your type of cancer and the available treatment options.
At mensgroup.com, you are not your diagnosis. We will teach you how to overcome self-imposed cancer stigma and learn to smile again after a diagnosis. You are not alone. Join mensgroup.com today to start the next part of your life.
*Sources: 1. Why Peer Support Is Important for People Coping With Cancer 2. 8 Reasons Why You Benefit From Cancer Support Groups and Individual Counseling 3. Experience, functions and benefits of a cancer support group 4. The Effectiveness of Psychoeducational Support Groups for Women With Breast Cancer and Their Caregivers: A Mixed Methods Study 5. What we know about cancer support groups