Support groups are extremely important tools to help cope with cancer. There are many things that family and friends can do to help, but talking with someone who knows exactly what you are going through is essential.
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, in addition to helping you cope better with your diagnosis and increase your knowledge about cancer, studies have found that the following benefits can be attained by attending a support group:
- Enhance self esteem
- Reduce depression
- Decrease anxiety
- Improve relationships with family and friends
There are a number of support group formats available. Depending on your personality type you may tend towards one or more of the following:
- In person
- By telephone
Beyond that the groups are categorized by a number of different things including these most common types:
- Cancer type
- Patient or Caregiver
- Stage of cancer
- Age of patient
- Peer to peer
Hospitals and treatment centers are the most common place to find a support group, and are the best place to start when searching for a support group. In Charlotte we have two major hospitals with excellent all around cancer treatment and support. Click here for Presbyterian’s support group information, and here for CMC’s support group information. Churches are also common places to find a support group.
Support groups aren’t just for the patient. Caregivers can particularly benefit from the support of others in their situation. Just as for the patient, caregivers face unique challenges that are difficult for others to fully understand if they have no direct experience as a caregiver.
No one is left out when it comes to support, there are also groups available for family and friends of patients. While it may not seem as important for these folks to get support, it certainly can be for two reasons: a) to meet with others in a similar situation and b) learn how to support their loved one.