Benefitting from Support Groups When You’re Facing Breast Cancer
The diagnosis of breast cancer is a major life-changing event. Upon hearing the words “cancer” a patient as well their loved ones are thrown into a whirlwind of emotions ranging from fear, to anger, to denial, to overwhelming sadness. It is difficult enough to deal with the physical challenges of breast cancer and treatment, but the emotional impact can be an even greater burden. Patients and loved ones need a “safe place” where they can share these feelings with other people who truly understand. In addition to treating the pain and symptoms of breast cancer, palliative care also treats the stress of this serious illness. Joining a support group is often recommended. Breast cancer support groups are designed to provide a confidential atmosphere where cancer patients can share these stresses with others experiencing similar situations.
In addition to offering a safe haven for sharing one’s experiences, the support group process provides an instillation of hope where group members gain a sense of optimism about his or her prognosis. For a new member entering the group the others are living inspirations, real people living with cancer. The members provide a wealth of information to each other, sharing individual experiences and insight to different coping mechanisms, thus enhancing the patient’s outlook and belief that they too can fight this disease. The group gains strength and courage from each other.
Patient groups are normally held separately from family and friend’s groups. Both the patient as well as their family needs this “safe place” to discuss their fears and concerns without feeling they may be upsetting their loved one. Breast cancer affects everyone involved and no one should travel this journey alone. Members of the health care team as well as the other support group members can make a person realize they are not alone. Uncertainties and fears from the diagnosis of breast cancer are to be expected, but knowing there are others waiting to help can allay some of the anxiety.
For further information on finding a support group near you:
- The National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service, 1-800-4-CANCER
- Your local chapters of the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure
- Local hospitals and breast health centers