Cancer support groups can bring considerable value to your cancer care journey. Even though joining one is likely not the first item on your list to take care of when you receive a cancer diagnosis, there are many good reasons to meet with fellow cancer patients.
How can a cancer support group help you as a patient (and as a caregiver)?
- There is empirical evidence that empowering the mindset of cancer patients can be an important asset when it comes to treatment.
- Many cancer support groups offer support on a peer-to-peer level. Other groups are being led by trained professionals, like psychologists, nurses, or social workers.
- It is not always easy for cancer patients or caregivers to share their emotions related to their diagnosis. A group of fellow patients or caregivers can offer a safe forum to share fears and anxieties while receiving encouragement. Some people may find it easier to be themselves among other patients or caregivers given a hesitancy to open up to their loved ones for fear of burdening them. Here, they find solidarity and understanding to discuss their individual experiences.
- A cancer care journey doesn’t only include medical treatment – it involves learning how to live and manage daily life while dealing with the emotional components of a new diagnosis and treatment. A support group whether it be a formal or informal can offer a safe place to exchange practical tips and advice.
Where can I find a group for me?
The following provides a few examples of accessible resources for support:
- American Cancer Society “Reach To Recovery” Program: Connects breast cancer patients with trained volunteers who are themselves breast cancer survivors. This is an online program and free of charge.
- Cancer.org Search for Resources: Here you can search by keywords and zip code to find online/local support.
- Discussion boards on Social Media: How Can People With Cancer Use Social Media for Support? Article and podcast on Cancer.net
- Cancer-related groups on Meetup.com
- NIH – National Cancer Institute: List of organizations and resources
- AACR – American Association for Cancer Research: List of organizations
- CancerCenter.com: How to choose a support group for cancer patients that’s right for you
Where you can inquire about a group that’s right for you:
- Ask your oncology medical team for a list of support group resources
- Your independent cancer care advocate can help locate resources
- Your social worker
- Your church or other corresponding religious community
Sources and further information: