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“Cancer.” It’s one of those words that no patient wants to hear and no provider wants to say. A diagnosis of it can naturally bring on a storm of conflicting emotions. As a bedside nurse, I could always tell when one of my cancer patients had a support system in their cancer journey or not. Their outlooks and attitudes reflected it—often being more hopeful and determined when they had a good support system versus hopeless and not motivated when they didn’t.
The support of friends and family is important as you walk through a cancer diagnosis, but I’ve seen an entirely different value to when a patient gets to speak to someone who’s BEEN in their shoes before. Whether it’s a family member, friend of a friend or someone in a support group; the value of a “me, too” in these circumstances is priceless. Patients and their loved ones can find this kind of support in a cancer support group.
A cancer support group is an environment where you can discuss feelings, concerns and attitudes toward a cancer diagnosis within a caring and empathetic group of people. This group is full of people who have been in either similar situations themselves or walked with a loved one through it.
There are many different types of support groups to help meet your needs when processing a cancer diagnosis, such as those for different age groups (focused on teens or young children), ones that cover topics like role and relationship changes, and others that are just for patients or their caregivers.
As you can see, there are a lot of different aspects and factors to consider when looking for a support group. So, weigh what is most important and appropriate for your needs by considering the questions below:
- What size of support group would fit you best? Some people may need a small, intimate group, while others prefer the anonymity of a larger one.
- Would you prefer to meet with someone one-on-one who has had your type of cancer before? Many organizations can pair you with an individual who has had your type of cancer and is close to your age or background.
- Do you have a preference of whether the group is led by a professional who can offer an educational element, or would you prefer a survivor who can offer a real-life perspective?
- Are you willing to pay a small fee to attend a support group, or would you prefer to look for one that is free or covered by insurance?
- How much time do you want to give to attending a support group? Would it work best for you to go in person or online?
Keep in mind that joining a new group of people can feel intimidating and uncomfortable—don’t feel bad about asking if you can just observe a support group first! These groups are meant to help you and encourage you wherever you may be, so don’t feel pressured to speak or participate yet if you don’t want to.
To get started in finding a cancer support group near you: call your local hospital or primary care provider and ask about their cancer support programs. These support groups are offered by many hospitals, cancer centers, community groups and even schools!
About the Author
Organizations are in a constant state of change and the Kinetiq Health team supports them every step of the way. A unique formula of people, processes and technologies enables our team to keep an educated eye on the financial and clinical implications of data to move organizations toward improved financial health and employee well-being.