What to Expect from and Online Cancer Support Group

What to Expect from and Online Cancer Support Group

There are few things in this life that have the ability to shake you to your core. One of them is being diagnosed with cancer. A tidal wave of emotions can mercilessly come over you and leave you feeling, well, entirely too many things at once. It’s normal to feel stressed out because of this and it’s unlikely that many people have been able to truly take such news in stride. For many cancer patients, one of the best resources out there is cancer support groups. With the rise of the internet as well as the massive spread of COVID-19, it’s easier than ever to find cancer support groups online.

Using this medium to find cancer support groups can be beneficial for people from all walks of life and the darkest stages of life. A person that doesn’t have the strength to get out of bed can join an online support group just as easily as someone who can get around without any problems.

Before you join an online cancer support group there are some things that are worth knowing, like what you can expect. You should always pick out your support group with care so you can be sure that they will fit exactly what you need.

A Digital Solution to a Very Real Problem

One of the worst things that one can do when they have cancer is succumb to the hopelessness that the diagnosis often comes with. This hopelessness can manifest in a lot of different ways. Afterall, everyone’s different. From a psychological standpoint, it only makes too much sense that no two people would need exactly the same kind of support for their emotions after being diagnosed with cancer. With that in mind, let’s dive in a bit into what you can expect out of online cancer support groups.

Now, getting to the nitty-gritty is a little tricky here. No two cancer support groups will be the same, and this is especially true with online cancer support groups. Some of these groups are hosted, Zoom meeting style, with a group of people having a video call. In that case, you would go on your computer and see the faces and hear the voices of the people in the group. Zoom meetings are set up so that whoever is speaking has their video feed front and center.

Most groups that do their meetings this way will have things set up so that only one person can speak at a time while the rest are muted, but there’s a text chat box to the side so you can give words of encouragement or any other comments you may have. These groups, typically, will either be group therapy where everyone talks about their feelings and gets their comfort that way, or they’ll be more about trying to solve logistical problems that may arise if the worst comes. Both of these styles are fantastic, but not everyone will get the help they need from one or the other.

Another type of online cancer support group would take the form of something like a group on Facebook. A bunch of people join in and communicate with the use of posts and threads. This style of support group is a lot less organized than the one we discussed in the previous paragraph, but it still has plenty of merit. The biggest appeal to this style is that it allows more people to be in a group without overwhelming the more reserved members and also provides the possibility of 24-hour support for the people that need it.

There are also some entirely text-based cancer support groups. Everyone joins a group chat and they discuss whatever they need to discuss. Text-based support groups, much like loosely organized social media support groups, are good because they can help both people that want emotional support and people that want support with less abstract issues at the same time. This method and the last method are both incredibly useful for those that are particularly reserved but still want to get the benefits of being in a cancer support group. After all, one of the most important things in the fight against cancer is the patient’s morale.

A lot of online cancer support groups have a combination of the three that we just listed and for good reason. It makes the support group a more tightly wound community with multiple methods for providing one another support. It also allows more members to join the support group and pick and choose which method of online cancer support group they prefer. That’s very useful for anyone that wants to be sure that they’ll get the help that they want online, no matter the reason they need to use this medium.

How to Find the Right Online Cancer Support Group

Online Resource Centre - CLAN Cancer Support

Finding the right online cancer support group can be the make or break factor determining how effective this process will be. The wrong cancer support group could leave you feeling frustrated and potentially worse off than you started because it doesn’t suit your needs correctly. While finding a good support group is definitely something you should do sooner than later, you don’t need to rush it. Let yourself have a moment to breathe while you try to think of things like:

  • What exactly are you looking to get out of a support group? Different people approach these kinds of groups for different reasons, so it’s only natural that you might have a unique reason in comparison to someone else. What kind of support do you need?
  • What format works best? Some people don’t want to leave their house or can’t leave their house but are fine with being on camera, while others might be a little more camera shy. You might even need a combination of both.
  • How often do you want the opportunity to interact with the group? Some groups, even online, just meet once or twice a week and that’s it. Other groups meet more frequently than that and might even allow you to be in touch all the time.
  • Do you want to speak with other people with cancer in general, or would you feel better about talking to people that have the same kind of cancer as you? Sometimes it’s nice to be able to talk to people that are dealing with the same exact thing, but at other times it can feel nice to put some distance between yourself and the other people in the group.

No matter what would work best for you, odds are that there’s a support group out there somewhere that can help you out. With the sheer number of support groups online, you’d be hard-pressed to not find one that will fit your needs like a glove. This kind of support is incredibly helpful for everyone involved, so you don’t have to be too shy. Everyone works together to try and make the others feel better, no matter what that means. Even groups that are similar can take on entirely different personalities because of the different people that make up the groups.

Find the Support You Need Online

The internet has made almost everything in our lives easier. Can you believe that just a few years ago people were still driving around with paper maps in their car? That same convenience has been able to change the way that some cancer support groups are able to meet, and that’s incredibly useful for anyone who’s battling cancer and stuck at home for any reason. All you need these days to find the help and support you need is a little time, an internet connection, and a basic understanding of how to use the internet. If you aren’t so tech-savvy yourself, you probably have someone in your life that would be more than happy to help you out with it.

***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.***