While a doctor may treat physical conditions, cancer patients need to also be aware of their mental health. Although there are psychologists and therapists for severe mental issues, many patients can benefit from joining a cancer support group to help them through these tumultuous times. These groups aim to alleviate the stress and anxiety of tackling cancer treatments and decisions alone. Once the cancer has been eliminated, these groups work to rehabilitate patients’ physical and mental states and restore their lifestyles.
Support groups come in all shapes and sizes. Patients should ask their doctors about support groups they would recommend. In addition to talking to their doctors, patients can also search online for support groups near them. There are support groups for different types of cancer or patients can choose to attend a group that doesn’t classify itself. For those patients who do not have the time or the ability to dedicate to an in-person support group, there are also online groups with chatrooms and members from all over the world.
When it comes to choosing the right support group, patients should take the time to figure out what factors a support group needs to give the maximum benefits. Below are some questions that patients should ask themselves when looking for a support group
- Do they want to learn more about the science and biology behind cancer?
- Are they looking for emotional support?
- What aspects of the support group appeals to their needs?
Asking these questions and more, before deciding on a group, will help make sure patients find the support group that best matches their wants and needs. Before patients make a final decision concerning which support group to join, they can try out a few to test the atmosphere and group leader.
Once a patient has determined which support group is right for them, they should work to make the most of their time with this group. Joining a support group can be uncomfortable in the beginning and it may take time to open up emotionally and feel relaxed discussing personal matters. Go in with an open mind and actively listen to the conversations. Once rapport is built with the group, patients should find it easy to talk with the group, almost as if they were talking with friends.
While finding the right support group is key, there are other things that patients can do to make sure they are maximizing the benefits of a support group. Patients who are receptive to suggestions and eagerly listen, will find support groups beneficial. Support groups are thought to reduce anxiety, stress, and fatigue while strengthening self-image, coping strategies, and satisfaction.