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Cancer Support Groups Can Help Patients and Caregivers

doctor and patient

How Cancer Support Groups Help People With Cancer

When you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, you will likely feel a wide range of emotions. Anger, despair, anxiety, and even disbelief are common reactions. Your feelings may be intense, overwhelming, and confusing. It is easy to become isolated and consumed by the realization that a cancer battle is in your future.

Whether you are a patient or caregiver, finding support is critical to your physical and emotional health.

Support groups are often an ideal source of help for people seeking similarly situated individuals who can share their experiences, offer advice, and listen.

Cancer Support Groups Allow You to Help Others While Helping Yourself

Finding the right support group allows you to share your feelings with others who have first-hand knowledge of what you are going through and can validate and understand what you are experiencing.

Sharing your fears and experiences about cancer can not only help you reduce your stress. It can help others in your support group as well. Being part of a support group means that each person helps everyone else feel less alone and better understood. Helping others while helping yourself can provide tremendous satisfaction.

Support Groups Allow You To Speak Freely and Honestly

Having cancer or caring for a family member or friend with cancer can be very isolating. You might feel consumed by worrisome thoughts and fears, all of which are “normal.” But these feelings can be hard to talk about, especially with family members and friends who are also coping with complex and painful emotions.

In many cancer support groups, you might feel comfortable sharing your feelings in ways you would rather not with close family members or friends. You can discuss difficult topics that might be too hard or awkward for you to share with people in your immediate circle.

Cancer Support Groups Can Reduce Depression and Anxiety

Studies show that support groups help. Cancer support groups are known to help cancer patients, and their caregivers feel more hopeful and less depressed.

Managing emotions when facing cancer can be important to one’s recovery. Maintaining a positive outlook and emotional health is often a critical part of enduring cancer treatments and overcoming cancer.

Cancer Support Groups Can Provide Practical Help

A cancer diagnosis, cancer treatments, and cancer care evoke a variety of questions. Most of them can’t be answered (honestly) by anyone other than someone who has experienced them first-hand.

  • What can you really expect from chemotherapy?
  • How bad are the side effects of radiation?
  • What does it feel like to lose your hair?
  • What are the best ways to provide care for someone getting chemo?
  • Where is a good place to buy a wig?
  • What are some alternative treatment options?
  • Where can I find the most current cancer information?

These questions can often be answered by peers in a support group. Support groups can also direct you to resources like cleaning services, insurance help, drivers, and childcare.

There Are Different Types of Cancer Support Groups

Different types of cancer support groups help in different ways. What distinguishes one group from another? The people who run the group and its members are usually the distinguishing factors.

You should have many options for finding one that works for you and makes you feel comfortable. Consider the following types of cancer support groups:

  • Professional support groups- these are run by a professional facilitator like a social worker, psychologist, or other individual trained to lead conversations and encourage healing.
  • Self-help groups or peer-led groups-these are run by the members of the group.
  • Informational groups- these are run by professionals who provide educational information about cancer and related topics.
  • Discussion boards, message boards, chat rooms, and social media platforms can also be a source of support for many patients or other people dealing with cancer. They can provide a place to share feelings and ask questions about the cancer experience.

An important consideration to think about when looking for a support group is the makeup of the members and the “group” it is trying to help. For example, there might be groups for:

  • young adults or young children with cancer
  • adults with cancer, a certain type of cancer, or a particular stage of cancer
  • siblings of individuals with cancer
  • cancer caregivers
  • people with a sick parent
  • support groups for cancer survivors
  • spouses of people with cancer

Whether you have cancer or a friend you wish to help, the right support group can provide benefits for all.

Choosing the Right Support Group

You can obtain information about support groups from a hospital, doctor, friend, or online. You can find many references on the websites of organizations that advocate, educate, and fundraise for cancer. Some things for you to consider when choosing the support group to try include:

  • What are you hoping to get out of the group? Do you want to gain emotional support? Education about cancer related issues? Both?
  • Do you want to meet your cancer support group in person, or do you prefer virtual? How would you be more comfortable sharing? Are online support groups helpful?
  • How often does the group meet? For how long? Where?
  • How many other group members are there?
  • Is it important that you be in a group with people who have had similar experiences?
  • Who leads the group? What is their philosophy or education? How are professionally facilitated support groups and peer-led support groups different?

If you have doubts about joining a support group, make sure that you have other means of emotional and physical support in place.

Studies show that patients and caregivers with support enjoy a better quality of life during their cancer journey. Support from groups or individuals can help reduce stress, giving patients and their family members the emotional and physical strength to get them through the cancer experience.

You can seek individual therapy with a trained professional, attend specific educational or informational events, or rely on friends and family for help, distraction, and guidance.

Send a Cancer Care Package

At Rock the Treatment, we know how important it is to show someone you know with cancer that you support them. We make this simple for you with our cancer gift baskets.  If someone you love has cancer, send them a helpful cancer gift basket from Rock The Treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation gift baskets are packed with the essentials needed to ease side effects of treatment, as well as enhance physical and mental well-being. See all of our cancer care packages and find the one that best supports their journey.

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