A cancer diagnosis can knock the wind right out of you. Before, during and after treatment, it is essential that you find and cultivate a strong and caring network of supportive people.
Your family and friends are always there for you, but they may not be able to understand exactly what you are going through. Of course, you will look to them for day-to-day help, care and motivation, but you might find yourself longing for something more.
If you wish there were others in your life who could truly understand and empathize with everything you are going through, learn where you can find meaningful fellowship and encouragement during this trying time.
Reach Out to Local Organizations
If there is a local chapter of the American Cancer Society, Gilda’s Club or another cancer organization in your area, give them a call. Not only are they highly likely to direct you to a relevant support group, but they can also be an invaluable resource throughout your treatment and beyond. For instance, they may be able to connect you with a survivor who has been right where you are and is willing to walk with you through your own journey.
Check with the Hospital
The hospital where you receive treatment as well as other medical centers near your home may host support groups onsite. Even if they do not, they will likely be able to provide you with a list of contact information for groups and associations where you can find camaraderie. In addition, they may offer individual counseling services for a deeper level of support.
Contact a Social Worker
Your oncology team may include a social worker who can be another priceless source of help and information throughout your battle with cancer. Seek the assistance of this helpful professional, who can typically point you to external resources as well as offer one-on-one counseling, education and comfort as needed.
Research Online Resources
The Internet is a treasure trove of cancer support resources. You can search on sites such as the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society or the Cancer Support Community, where you will find details regarding in-person and online support groups as well as other types of support that may fit your unique needs.
Factors to Consider
Whether you decide to join a support group, find a mentor, seek counseling or any combination thereof, thinking about your wants and needs will help you discover the best option for you. Considering the following factors may help you in the process.
- Do you prefer to meet in person or an online forum?
- Are you more comfortable in a one-on-one setting or small group, or would you rather join a larger assembly?
- Would you rather be involved with those who have experienced your specific type of cancer or those in a general cancer support setting?
- How close and convenient is the location for you?
- Who leads the support group or runs the counseling session? Is it a cancer survivor, health care professional or someone else?
- What is the format and purpose of the meetings? Do they meet your needs?
Lean on your loved ones during this difficult period. Reach out to the many professionals dedicated to helping you. Seek support from others who are enduring similar challenges as well as those who have gone through them and come out on the other side. Creating a solid network of caring and understanding people is one of the most powerful steps you can take toward beating cancer.