What is a Cancer Support Group?

How to choose a support group for cancer patients that's right for you |  CTCA

In the event that you, or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, of any type, it can be devastating. Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of everyday people like the word “cancer.” However, as dismal as it may seem, cancer doesn’t always mean a death sentence. A cancer diagnosis will probably mean that there will be a lot of work, and a lot of courage involved to face the problem, but it can also mean growth. Joining a cancer support group has the capacity to help patients see the silver lining in the situation, and even cultivate long-lasting, meaningful relationships with people that are suffering from the same misfortune.

Cancer Support Groups in General

The concept behind a typical support group of any kind is to bring a group of people together that are facing similar difficulties. Although no two people are going to have the exact same scenario, many of the people that seek out support groups are suffering from depression and loneliness. In many cases, just the presence of other people that are able to share their experiences, and listen to other people’s experiences is enough to provide a positive light on a dismal situation.

There are countless types of support groups that are available for various afflictions that affect communities around the world. Alcohol and drug abuse support groups are popular, along with various illnesses and disabilities.

During a support group, people that have something in common get together and discuss solutions, ideas, problems, and challenges. In many cases, one person in the group may have experience dealing with some of the problems that a person is just beginning to face. The experience one person has can shed some light and provide valuable insight for a struggling peer that could really use some words of support.

Cancer groups can be for people that are struggling with cancer, in general, or they can be for specific types of cancer such as breast cancer, or prostate cancer. Ideally, all members of the group will have some kind of connection with cancer either directly, or indirectly.

The Power of Familiarity

There are many circumstances in life that a person just can’t understand unless they have experienced them for themselves. Imagine watching a game of football on television in the comfort of your own couch while you cheer on your team. Some fans get passionate about the game and yell angrily at the players that make mistakes or fall short of expectations.

There is a big difference between watching the game, and actually being on the field playing it with the team. Anybody can sit on the sidelines and judge, but unless they are out there in the game, they will never understand the full essence of what is happening, and what it feels like.

Much like players in a football game, people that are fighting a terrible ailment like cancer are actually living the nightmare, feeling the pain, and experiencing the fear. The only other people that can understand the experience of fighting cancer are the ones that have done it, or that are in the process of doing it.

Belonging to a group of people that are fighting the same battle as you is not only comforting but beneficial to the spirit as well.

How to Find a Cancer Support Group that Fits Your Needs

One of the most powerful weapons against the unknown is the world wide web. It does not take any special skills to open up a web browser and do a search on the internet. All you have to do is have a general understanding of what you are looking for in a group.

For example, the type of cancer that you have, the stage at which the cancer has reached, whether you are currently fighting cancer, or have already beaten it makes a lot of difference in the role you will play in a group.

  • What type of cancer
  • The stage of the cancer
  • Current patient or cancer survivor

Whichever characteristics that mean the most to you when searching for the appropriate group will make a huge difference in what you find. Doing a Google search for what you are looking for can be a huge step in the right direction.

The American Cancer Society is a tremendous resource for people that are seeking help and support with cancer-related problems. Whether you are a patient yourself, or you are looking for support for a friend or loved one the ACS is a great place to start. Regardless of where you are at in your journey, or what circumstances that you are experiencing now, you can ask questions and get answers from somebody that cares.

The Power to Choose

Cancer Support Community: Finding a Group

You may or may not find the perfect support group to meet all of your needs at first, and that is OK. You always have the option to keep looking for the best groups that you can find. You can try one group, and if it does not work for you, try another one. The fact that there are so many options to choose from available gives you the option to seek and find the best group for you and your personal needs.

The Group Setting

When you join a group keep in mind that the people in the group may be facing some scary problems that they do not know how to cope with. They might not all be nice, all of the time. Facing a monster as menacing as cancer can cause many psychological issues on top of the physical issues that are happening. Fear. Anger. Resentment. All of these emotions are fiery examples of what people feel when they face terrifying difficulties. Being in a group with struggling people might not be as happy and shiny as you hope for.

The conversations and discussions that happen in cancer support groups can be raw, real, and passionate. It is within this group setting where you are surrounded with like minds that you can feel safe when it comes to sharing how you truly feel inside. If you are angry and scared, it is probably safe to assume that everybody else is too.

The group will generally have a facilitator of some sort that will lead the rest of the group in the direction of a topic or a thought-provoking point that each person in the room can talk about, or share experience about.

There will most likely be rules and guidelines of how to conduct yourselves when in conversation and how to be respectful of the other people that are talking.

You can be Light for Others

It may be that you or a loved one is in a dark place with illness today. You can choose how you look at this predicament. Your perspective matters. When you get through and defeat this obstacle you will always have the option to continue to participate in a support group. With your experience and knowledge, you will have the ability to shine a light in a dark place for another person that is facing many of the same problems that you had to face when you started your battle.

***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.***