Even though many patients receive support from friends and family, the number one reason they join a support group is to be with others with similar experiences. Some research shows that joining a support group improves both quality of life and survival.
Support groups have many benefits, including:
- Helping you feel better, more hopeful, and not so alone
- Giving you a chance to talk about your feelings and work through them
- Helping you deal with practical problems, such as problems at work or school
- Helping you cope with side effects of treatment
Support groups can also be helpful for children or family members. These groups focus on family concerns such as role changes, relationship changes, financial worries, and how to support the cancer patient. Some groups include both cancer survivors and family members.
Participants can dial in to telephone support groups like a conference call. They can share and talk to others with similar experiences from all over the country. There is usually little or no charge.
Online support groups are "meetings" that take place online. People meet through chat rooms, listservs, or moderated discussion groups and talk with each other over email. People often like online support groups because they can take part in them any time of the day or night. They're also good for people who can't travel to meetings.
Always talk with Dr. Arguelles about cancer information you learn online, as it can sometimes be unreliable.
Support groups vary greatly, and if you have one bad experience, it doesn't mean you should rule out all support groups; maybe you just need to try a different one to find the right fit. You may also want to find another cancer survivor with whom you can discuss your cancer experience.