How Cancer Support Groups Change Lives

How Cancer Support Groups Change Lives

Imagine hearing maybe the most scary news of your life; your doctor found cancer. There would be a whole range of emotions flowing through you. One may feel anger, sadness, confusion, or just feel straight terrified. Now imagine if there was no one in your life you could relate to, no one in your life that knew and felt exactly what you were going through. Family and friends can help tremendously of course by loving and supporting you through the whole journey. But still, deep down, you may feel you’re going through this alone. Cancer support groups can almost eliminate that feeling completely by providing the person with a safe space to share all thoughts and feelings with others that are going through the same exact thing. Being diagnosed with cancer should be scary to anyone, but being part of a support group specifically for cancer patients can change the whole experience for someone in such a positive way. 

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Why You Should Join a Support Group

If you’re like me, you may not be so willing to join a group where you talk about your feelings with others. However, joining a group where you can feel safe with what you share with other people because they are going through the same problems as you are is therapeutic and beneficial in many ways.

Being diagnosed with cancer can affect the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of your life. Physically, it may change how you feel and view yourself. If your body has any pain, or you’re lethargic from treatments, you may not be able to enjoy the normal activities you had before. 

Emotional effects can have a huge impact on your health. After being diagnosed with cancer it is natural to have dark thoughts sometimes. You may be worried about your survival rate, the possibility of dying, or how all of this may affect the people that love you. That is a lot of emotional stress to be bottled up.  

Now everyone is different, but I could see how the spiritual side of it may also be affected. When something bad happens to you or a loved one, people often have the thought “Why me?” or, “Why did this have to happen to her? She’s innocent”. What happens to all of us is simply out of our hands, but it’s not that far of a reach to understand why someone might blame a higher power. 

The social aspects of one’s life can definitely change during the battle with cancer. You may slowly start detaching from friends and family. Whether it’s because you’re often sad and do not want them to see that, or being with friends and family just doesn’t bring you the same joy as it did before. 

All of these stressors, emotions, and major life changes would have a negative effect on almost anyone. But if you are having any of these negative effects, due to being diagnosed with cancer, it is just too much to handle alone. Being able to talk to people that are literally going through what you are, being able to relate, it will help immensely. You will be able to share all fears and concerns openly with people without worrying how it may make them feel(unlike friends and family that are already so concerned). People will hear what you say and tell you how they coped with those same exact feelings! Joining a cancer support group will reduce stress in so many different ways. Even if it’s just putting a voice to all your worries and fears. It’s at least worth a try. 

Benefits of Joining a Cancer Support Group

A cancer diagnosis is a lot to take in, especially when you can’t even anticipate the feelings to come. Having family and friends to support you is wonderful and will help in many ways. But still, unless they have been diagnosed before, they can only help so much. One major benefit in support groups is the relatability. Whether you choose a professional-led or peer-led group, you will be talking with people that have first-hand experience in dealing with a cancer diagnosis. It will be somewhat refreshing actually. Talking to people that are where you are, or have been where you are. Talking to people that fought and conquered cancer already, will shed light on your entire view of the diagnosis. And being as positive as you possibly can be, is only going to help. 

For someone that’s never been diagnosed before, to suddenly hear the disheartening news, it is difficult to do anything besides panic and stress over it. Learning how to cope with those feelings will make a huge difference on your outlook and overall day-to-day mood. The different treatment and pain management options can be overwhelming and not everyone chooses the same path. Through support groups you can get advice from other people and what did or did not work for them. You can learn what others did when they felt hopeless or alone, what they did to help themselves out of that mindset.   

Another thing about being diagnosed with cancer for the first time, there is so much unknown. Your doctor probably gave you options for different plans of action, and went into detail about each one. But hearing all of that at once, right after you’re diagnosed, can sometimes translate into hearing nothing at all. Talking with a non medical professional can be alot easier to fully understand. Support groups are filled with people that can tell you exactly what their plan of attack was and how it worked for them

People beat cancer all the time. Even once it’s over and the cancer is all gone, the fear tends to stick around a while longer. Sometimes it never leaves. Support groups are for anyone that has had a previous diagnosis or is currently diagnosed. Some groups even invite family or friends to join so that they can get a better idea what exactly their loved one is going through. To continue talking and relating to people, even after your cancer is gone, not only helps people currently battling, but helps you as well to progress on.

Make Connections, Get Help

Being diagnosed with cancer is traumatic in itself, just hearing the news alone. Battling it and everything else that comes along with it, is a whole other deal. Luckily, there are specific groups of people battling the same challenges, dealing with very similar experiences. By joining a support group for cancer patients you are giving yourself the chance for a unique type of care which you just cannot get by yourself alone, or from the help of family and friends. 

You can discuss how the diagnosis made you feel, what pain you’re going through, your darkest fears, all with people that are dealing with similar situations. Talking with your family or friends is also helpful of course. You love them and they love you. But certain topics regarding cancer may be uncomfortable to talk about with your friends or family. Joining a support group gives you that extra push to be open about your feelings, to vent out all the negative thoughts you may feel. You’ll hear many different opinions, learn more about the disease, and socialize with other fighters.

In turn, reducing your stress. Also opening up your view to the positive outcomes; People battle and beat cancer everyday. There are many successful treatment options, but support groups are definitely underrated. It can seem weird to talk to strangers about such a sensitive subject, but unless you try, you will never know how much a support group can help you. 

***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.***