Why Cancer Support Groups are Crucial
Cancer is a scary diagnosis, no matter who you are. It’s hard to know exactly how to cope when you get the news that you have cancer. There are some treatments available for those with cancer, such as chemotherapy, but the survival rate of that is grim and even without that it still takes a lot of bravery to undergo.
Sometimes you just need to be around other people that have been through the same kinds of circumstances. That is part of the reason why cancer support groups are so important. Let’s look at some of the ways that support groups help people that have just been diagnosed and people who have been living with cancer alike.
You Aren’t Alone
When you first get diagnosed, there are a lot of thoughts that go through your mind. A cacophony of emotions all at once. It can be more than a little overwhelming. Hopelessness, despair, and desolation are all common emotions to feel when you first get diagnosed. Don’t feel bad if you get emotional, it’s common and natural. When you’re in the position, it may even feel like your loved ones don’t quite understand what you’re going through, and through no fault of their own, they might not.
One of the most important things for the morale of a cancer patient is support. While family members and friends will likely be doing their best, there’s still an element that many cancer patients find missing. That’s where cancer support groups come in. Cancer support groups are designated groups for people with cancer to come together and discuss their feelings on the matter. Many cancer patients that undergo these support group sessions do find themselves feeling a little bit more hopeful because they aren’t having to go through such a scary and traumatic experience alone.
Most people are afraid of dying. It’s in our instincts that were passed down to us from our ancestors. This fear of death is even older than humans and has likely been passed down to us from long before the first creatures began walking on land. It’s so ingrained into us on such a deep level that many people would even say that this fear of death influences many of our choices. That’s one of the reasons why cancer is such a scary diagnosis. We’re all aware that the clock is ticking, but cancer puts a deadline on it.
Chemotherapy, while one of your best bets for surviving cancer, is still a terrifying experience. Many patients that undergo chemotherapy lose all of their hair, have little to no appetite, become anemic, are exhausted all the time, become a lot more susceptible to bruising and bleeding, and have all sorts of other less than fun side effects. Going through the process of chemotherapy makes many patients feel like they’re dying, and that just makes having cancer that much scarier. It’s easy for people to have even more thoughts rush through their heads while they’re feeling so badly and doing their best just to survive.
Fortunately, talking through these feelings in a cancer support group with other people that are either currently going through the same thing or have gone through the same thing in the past can do wonders for working through your fears. There’s nothing quite like speaking with someone that’s been through the same thing that you’re going through and lived to tell the tale. These support groups can also help you figure out how to address your real-world problems, like your job, family, and even how your possessions will be handled should the worst-case scenario happen.
How to Find a Cancer Support Group
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, there’s a good chance that you need some moral support. Being around people that have or are dealing with the same thing as you can do wonders for your spirits. That being said, the first step towards getting this kind of help is knowing where to look. There are all sorts of resources available to those affected by cancer so they can find nearly any support that they need, so at least it’s not difficult. Here are a few places to look so you know you’re heading in the right direction.
The first thing that you’ll want to think of is exactly what kind of cancer support group you want. You have a lot of options for this one, so you should be able to find exactly what you need. You can find in-person support groups, online support groups, and even over the phone support groups. There are also groups for general cancer patients that may have different diagnoses, as well as groups where people with a specific diagnosis meet. That means that you can get as specific or vague as you need and you can even go to multiple groups if you feel like it would better suit you.
Now, a great place to start looking for cancer support groups is to call your local hospital and ask about any that they might provide. Many hospitals are eager to provide this service because it helps everyone involved, ranging from doctors to patients, if the patients are able to get the support that they so desperately need during such trying times. You can also try asking your caseworker or other people that you know that might have gone through cancer, both of these are great resources for finding cancer support groups.
Finally, you can try checking on the internet. The internet has lots of resources available for helping cancer patients find support groups, and it can be a useful tool. You can even put filters on your searches through some websites that allow you to find any type of support group that would work best for you. The government provides resources as well as private organizations, so if you look you’ll definitely be able to find a place that would work for you, no matter what type of cancer you might have.
Is a Cancer Support Group Right for You?
Before going through all the effort of finding a support group, it’s important to ask yourself if it would actually be useful for you personally. While many people do find these kinds of groups helpful, it’s not for everyone. Some people don’t like to talk about their personal problems with large groups of people, and others don’t like to listen to other people’s problems. The solution could be finding a personal therapist to help you work through your emotions or it could even be finding a smaller support group so you don’t have to worry about there being too many people there.
Before you enter any specific group, you should make sure to ask the person in charge some questions. For example:
- How many people attend this group? This information is important for those that are concerned about the group is too large.
- How long are the meetings? Some people prefer longer meetings, and some people prefer shorter meetings. Either way, you’re going to want to know the duration of the meetings before you start going to make sure it’s a good fit.
- How often are the meetings held? In some cases, going to support groups every day can be helpful. Other people might find that to be too burdensome. Finding the perfect middle ground is important for ensuring that you’re getting the support you need.
- How much does it cost to attend this group? Many cancer support groups are completely free, but some do require a fee to attend. If you don’t want to spend money on going to a support group and your insurance won’t cover it, you’ll need to know this information upfront.
- How long has this group been around? Some people simply prefer for groups to be established. If a group has been around for a while you may have a lower chance of being surprised, while newer groups can sometimes be a little more volatile in things like attendance.
- Is participation required? While some people don’t like listening to other people’s problems, others would prefer to just sit in the same room as these people and have a chance to draw parallels between their situations.
- What is the purpose of this group? Many groups exist as a place for people to vent, while others exist to give tips on how to solve problems in the attendees’ lives. Both are valid, but not everyone is going to get help from one of the other.
Try to keep in mind, your recovery journey is personal and entirely about you. Finding the perfect support group and do you worlds of wonder, and finding out that they aren’t for you can help you a lot, as well. Just make sure you do whatever you feel will help you feel even a little better through such turbulent times.
There is Hope
One of the first things many cancer patients lose is hope. Fortunately, there are ways that you can cling to that little bit of hope no matter how dire your situation may look. There are many options available for you to get support and thousands of people that have faced or are currently facing the same thing that you are. One of the most important things in times like these is to keep your head up and hold onto your hope for dear life.
***On the Aepios platform, members gain support from peers nationwide by sharing valuable real-world experiences, treatments, and outcomes for an expanding number of medical conditions.***