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Support groups can have many benefits. You may feel better about yourself, find a new life focus, have better pain control, make new friends, improve your mood, cope better with your cancer, learn more about cancer, and better deal with the needs of others in your life.
Support groups can:
The number one reason people join a support group is to be with other people who have "been there"—not because they do not receive support from friends and family. Some research shows that joining a specific type of support group improves quality of life and enhances survival.
For some people, hearing about others' problems can make them feel worse. "I went to the [group] meetings for a while," one woman reports. "I would come out and be so depressed. Why? Because you think you're sick, and you hear the stories; they're like horror stories. I cried enough at home, and I didn't want to go to a group and cry more."
Could a support group help you? If you answer yes to most of the questions that follow, you may want to try one out. To find groups that meet near you, ask your doctor, nurse, social worker, or local cancer organization.
Support groups and patient seminars at Dana-Farber
If you are thinking about joining a support group, here are some questions you may want to ask the group's contact person:
If you are not happy with a support group you join, you may want to try finding another group with different members or concerns. Support groups vary greatly, and one bad experience doesn't mean they are not a good option for you.
If a support group does not interest you, think about finding another cancer survivor with whom you can discuss your cancer experience. Many organizations can pair you with someone who had your type of cancer and is close to your age and background.
Source: National Cancer Institute, Facing Forward Series: Life After Cancer