Cancer support groups inspire survivors to find healthy ways to cope with their disease. The resources, advice, and personal stories survivors share with each other are both practical and encouraging. One study of breast cancer patients who attended weekly support groups showed significant improvement in survival time. This is just as likely for those with thyroid cancer, mesothelioma, skin malignancies, and other forms of cancer. Even if life expectancy does not improve, quality of life surely does.
Many cancer patients find it hard to talk about what is happening to them. It may be awkward, uncomfortable, or painful to talk about the disease, even to family and friends. Talking to doctors and nurses can be just as hard. It may seem easier to ignore the issue, but talking can help. While some cancers are curable and most are treatable, almost all survivors face an emotional crisis. Cancer can be the scariest challenge of someone’s life. Talking with others who are going through the same thing reminds survivors that they are not alone.
There is not a “right” or “wrong” to deal with cancer. Each person copes in his or her own way. But talking about it with other survivors, or writing about it in journals or blogs, is therapeutic. Knowing that other people are listening helps survivor’s better cope with the challenges they face.
Some people find it hard to reach out to others, especially if they think they have nothing to give in return. Many cancer survivors are surprised to discover how many people want to support them. Partners, families, and friends can be disappointing sources of support because they are dealing with their own emotions. Most healthcare communities and some churches have support groups, provided by people who simply enjoy helping others. Hospice teams offer support during the last months of life.
An online group like the American Cancer Society “Cancer Survivors Network” is a valuable resource for cancer survivors. They celebrate life together by supporting each other and telling their stories. Discussion boards are a good place to meet other survivors and build friendships. Internet chat and instant messaging allow for real-time conversations. And cancer support blogs offer useful information and insight.
Cancer patients face similar fears and uncertainties. Support groups are important whether someone has treatable breast cancer, an unfavorable pancreatic cancer prognosis, or a short mesothelioma life expectancy and prognosis. Talking about cancer with people who understand is priceless. Support networks give survivors a sense of belonging and a safe place to vent. Group involvement is known to reduce stress and improve health, for a better quality of life. And that is something every cancer survivor wants and needs. Other online resources can be located at:
By: David Haas