Cancer support groups are meetings for people directly and indirectly affected by cancer. Some groups are peer-led (self-help) and others are run by professional group leader such as a psychologist, social worker, or trained counselor.
There are clear benefits from connecting with people who have gone through similar cancer experiences. Some research shows that joining a support group improves both quality of life and well being.
Reasons to Join a Support Group
- Help you feel better, more hopeful, and not so alone
- · Give you a chance to talk about your feelings and work through them
- Help you deal with practical problems, such as problems at work or school
- Help you cope with side effects of treatment
Types of Support Groups
Some groups focus on cancer in general; others talk about just one kind, such as a group for women with breast cancer or one for men with prostate cancer. Some can be open to everyone or just for people of a certain age (e.g., adolescents and young adults), sex, culture, or religion.
There are many types of support groups in the San Diego area. If an in-person group isn't right for you, you may also considered telephone support groups or online support groups.
Where to Find a Cancer Support Group
Many hospitals, cancer centers, community groups, and schools offer cancer support groups. For example, Moores Cancer Center, Scripps Hospital, and Sharp Hospital have a number of excellent programs. Some other ways to find a support group are to:
- Call your local hospital and ask about its cancer support program
- Ask your social worker to suggest groups
- Go to the Association of Cancer Online Resources(ACOR)
- Do an online search for groups in San Diego
- Call Dr. Felleman at BMED San Diego for group recommendations
Is a Support Group Right for Me?
Support Groups may not be right for everyone. Some things to consider when deciding on your first group are:
- How long are the meetings?
- How often does the group meet?
- How long has the group been together?
- Who leads the meetings - a professional or a survivor?
- What is the format of the meetings?
- Is the main purpose to share feelings, or do people also offer tips and solutions
- If I go, can I just sit and listen?
- Before joining a group, here are questions you may want to ask yourself:
- Am I comfortable talking about personal issues?
- Do I have something to offer to the group?
- What do I hope to gain by joining a group?
It's important to recognize that support groups vary greatly, and if you have one bad experience, it doesn't mean these groups aren't a good option for you. You may also want to find another cancer survivor with whom you can discuss your cancer experience. Another option is to meet individually for counseling with a cancer therapist through BMED San Diego or through your local hospital. Support is available!
(disclosure: segments of this entry were included from cancer.gov webpage)