Just because you are battling cancer, does not mean you should face the war alone. In fact, findings suggest that there is a sufficiently strong relationship between cancer progression and social support. This means communicating with people you relate to can help manage the physical and emotional difficulties cancer brings.
With that said, it is important to meet others who have been or are currently affected by cancer. Though you might feel hesitant to engage with others dealing with cancer, it can do wonders for your mental health.
The best way to reach people who are going through the same challenges as you is to find a cancer community, support group, or online group discussion.
Why You Should Join a Support Group
Many cancer patients and survivors have a great deal of knowledge regarding how to cope with the struggles presented by cancer and treatment. Joining a good community can help you:
- Acquire accurate information about your disease and treatment.
- Get recommendations for the best cancer doctors and treatments.
- Receive encouragement and reassurance from survivors who have been in your shoes and found hope.
- Realize that other patients are experiencing the same problems you do.
- Laugh or cry with others who have been through similar situations.
- Learn how to talk to people with cancer.
- Deal with fear and anxiety about the future.
- Forget, even for a minute or hour, that you have cancer.
Moreover, you can spend time together and never discuss cancer, which provides many patients with a sense of relief. You can share your interests, talk about life experiences and achievements, or invite one another for dinner. It can be refreshing and comforting to spend time with people who understand what you are dealing with.
Types of Support Groups
There are diverse types of support groups providing emotional support for cancer. According to the Cancer Support Community, “Some are professionally facilitated; some are facilitated by fellow cancer survivors. Some groups are disease-specific (breast cancer, colorectal cancer, etc.); age or gender-specific (young adults, men, women, etc.); and some are time-limited (six week series for newly diagnosed breast cancer, etc.).”
What to Look for in a Cancer Community
Even if you find common ground with some cancer patients or survivors, such as age or the same disease type, your experiences and reactions may be different. Therefore, you should consider searching for a cancer community based on your:
- Stage of cancer
- Personality or character
- Stress management and coping mechanisms
- Financial situation
- Genetics and personal health history
- Family background or culture
- Choice of cancer treatments (traditional, natural, or both)
- Support systems
A good support group will discuss a broad range of topics, including hardships and inspirational stories. Keep in mind that a great cancer community laughs together, cries together, and shares all types of experiences and feelings. Problems can feel much more manageable when you talk about them with those who truly understand.
A Word of Advice
Each support group or cancer community is unique. If one is not a good fit, go and try a different one. You can also talk to a support group’s leader to determine if their community is right for you. If not, they may also be able to suggest other groups.