Being initially diagnosed with cancer is a shocking and terrifying experience. Your world can suddenly feel like it has narrowed down to one single word: cancer. Once the initial shock wears off, you may be faced with other emotions such as despair or anger. While these feelings are valid and understandable, eventually they will no longer serve their purpose. It’s at this point that you must begin to move forward and look for other ways to cope with your diagnosis.
Many cancer patients struggle with loneliness and despair following their diagnosis. It’s natural that after receiving a positive diagnosis for cancer many people feel isolated and depressive, and it can be difficult to pull yourself out of this spiral.
To help alleviate some of these symptoms, many medical professionals recommend the use of support groups.
What is a cancer support group?
Run by licensed social workers or nurses, cancer support groups offer a safe and non-judgmental environment for cancer sufferers to share their experiences and to connect with others experiencing the same issues.
Cancer support groups are ordered by type, age, and even risk. This means that those suffering from prostate cancer won’t hear breast cancer stories, and vice versa. Not only does this create an environment where people can build connections, it also allows for specialized, comprehensive emotional and educational support that is specific to each type of cancer.
What can a cancer support group do for you?
Studies have shown that cancer support groups can help sufferers alleviate the psychological distress associated with their diagnosis. Cancer is not only a battle happening within your mind, but one that is also happening within your mind. It is important to find ways to combat the emotional and psychological toll of the disease, while also combating the physical effects.
Within the context of a support group you can find tried and true methods other sufferers have tried or discover new methods to help alleviate anxiety, improve self-image, mood and feelings of control, and to also find ways to help assuage fatigue and pain.
What can a cancer support group do for your family?
While you may be suffering with cancer, your family and loved ones are also suffering. A cancer diagnosis can turn a loved one into a caregiver, which can be a difficult task. The balance of care for you (the patient) versus the balance of self-care for themselves (the caregiver) must be maintained. Without that balance, caregivers can burn out from the stress and emotional toll that the roll can take.
Cancer support groups aimed at caregivers can help teach caregivers how to cope with the stress of the diagnosis, how to prepare for future symptoms, and how to remember to care for their own mental wellbeing too. Having a loved one diagnosed with cancer can often seem overwhelming, but cancer support groups can provide caregivers with help with medical care, emotional support, information on financial support, and with helping caregivers understand that cancer support and caregiving is a team effort.
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