Any patient who is diagnosed with cancer must seek out further medical treatment. Depending upon your condition, your doctor will likely recommend surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these options to best treat your cancer. You may also talk with a dietician about the best food for your body during and after treatment. One form of treatment that is often overlooked exists just beyond these common treatment options: the support group. This important treatment option works to care for your emotional well-being and state of mind.
Benefits of Support Groups
Everyone has an innate need for two things: social support and to know what is going on around them. When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, support and knowledge become increasingly important and can benefit a patient who is going through treatment in several ways.
- Support groups allow many patients to better handle the symptoms, pain and stress associated with cancer and its treatment.
- A survey by the Personal Care Products Council found that 9 out of 10 women surveyed reported that attending a support group “lived up to or exceeded their expectation” and that 82% of doctors whose patients have attended support groups felt that they were effective additions to the treatment process.
- Some research has shown that patients who attend support groups are more likely to observe their doctors’ orders and fully follow treatment recommendations.
- Support groups offer cancer patients opportunities to learn from educated facilitators and to share experiences with other patients in similar situations.
While the medical aspects of your treatment will focus on fighting tumors and helping your body, it would be a mistake to forget about your mental well-being. Talking to others who are going through or have gone through cancer treatment can help you to better handle the process mentally and emotionally. Cancer can be very intimidating and even confusing, so the more tools you have to fight it, the better your outcome will likely be. It is true that there is some debate as to whether support groups and similar additions to treatment actually extend the lives of cancer patients, but all seem to agree that they increase mental well-being, which is a huge advantage.
Recommendations for Choosing a Support Group
- Get the details- All support groups are different. They may be facilitated by a cancer survivor, a medical professional or another leader. Find out who is going to lead the sessions and make sure that you are comfortable with this person. Also ask how many people are in the group; group size is a personal preference, so find a group that is right for you. You will also want to ask about the format used–is it an educational group, does the facilitator generally lead an open-ended group discussion, etc. Basically you need to compare a few different support groups and decide on the one that best matches your tastes.
- Choose a reputable group- There are many great support groups out there–and some that are not so great. We mentioned asking about the facilitator, but also ask who hosts the group. Your best bets are support groups run by a hospital or a notable non-profit agency such as the American Cancer Society.
- Attend- This seems obvious, but many people sign up for a group and then do not go. You do not have to be afraid, embarrassed or shy. Make the commitment to yourself to attend the support session–and then really show up and participate. You can find a group that meets at a time that accommodates your schedule once you begin looking.
If you are looking for a support group in Hudson, Trinity, New Port Richey or anywhere else along the Nature Coast then Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point can help. We host:
- Breast Cancer Support Group- Meets the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 pm in the 2 North Conference Room on the second floor. Please call Patricia at the American Cancer Society at 1-800-940-1969 or 813-949-0291, ext. 114 for details or Diane at 727-378-5647
- Look Good Feel Better- Meetings will run from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm in one of our conference rooms. For meeting dates and for more information, please call Nancy at the American Cancer Society at 813-319-5919.
We would love for you to come see what our support groups are all about and how they can help you through the treatment process.