If you have recently been diagnosed with cancer, one thing that many cancer patients find very helpful is joining a support group. A cancer diagnosis can be a lot to take in, and even beyond the diagnosis, the day-to-day of cancer treatment can be daunting, emotional, painful and much more. But, in addition to the obvious things, there are many unforeseen things that you cannot anticipate or know about until you experience them personally. While many people cannot see the benefit of joining a cancer support group and talking to strangers about treatment, feelings and more, there are actually numerous benefits. It will take some of your time and energy to attend a group but it will help you care for yourself in a unique way, and enormous strength can be found through the support of those who are going through the same thing you are at the same time. Below we discuss 3 reasons you should join a support group if you have been diagnosed with cancer.
1. Ability to Relate To Others
- One of the main reasons people think they do not need to join a support group is that they already have close friends and family with whom they can discuss their feelings, get advice and receive support form. And, while that is wonderful and will be very helpful, they cannot truly relate to what you are going through. Your feelings, your darkest fears, your frustrations, your happiness, and anything else will be seen through a new lens when you have a cancer diagnosis and verbalizing that in a group of people who have similar feelings or can understand where you are coming from will provide you a sense of comfort and support that cannot be found elsewhere. Treatment and illness can feel very isolating and a support group will help you realize you are not alone.
2. Develop Coping Strategies
- In addition to finding support and community through a common illness, you will also get the chance to develop coping strategies. The world of cancer, treatment options, pain management and more can be very overwhelming. What works for one may not work for another. Through a support group you can ask for advice or get tips on how to cope with treatment, suggestions for managing conversations with friends and family about a diagnosis and get the sort of insider information that you need in a convenient and supportive way.
3. Research Supports It
- Finally, research has actually shown that joining a support group is good for cancer patients. If you are like many others, just like with your treatment plan or medications, you want proof that something will work. Research to back it up. And, even if there are many intangible benefits of support groups, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, research shows that there are tangible benefits for cancer patients who join support groups, “Research has shown that cancer patients in general benefit from support group participation… This study investigated differences between participants of a community cancer support group and a random selection of non-participants from the Cancer Registry… Support group participants were more likely to be female, without a partner, younger, and to have more education and formal support than non-participants. They held more favourable views of support groups, believed that significant others were favourable towards participation, and perceived less difficulty in joining a group. “