When facing a cancer diagnosis, connecting with others can be a source of comfort and support. Whether someone is newly diagnosed, going through treatment, a survivor or a caregiver, support groups are available to provide information and community that can enhance quality of life.
“Cancer changes your life — physically, emotionally and spiritually,” said Elizabeth Delaney, RN, DNP, family nurse practitioner with Dayton Physicians Network. “Having a support group to deliver education, provide emotional support and a sense of community can be helpful through the cancer journey.”
Delaney, who is certified in oncology and palliative care, has worked with oncology patients for more than 25 years and has observed the positive effect support groups can have on her patients. Support groups can help patients and their family members understand they’re not alone in their journey and can reduce stress by providing a safe, open forum for participants to discuss their fears and challenges in a positive environment.
“Support groups can be extremely useful for newly diagnosed patients to gather information from people who have been through it,” said Delaney.
There are different types of groups to choose from, and they offer support through a variety of ways, depending on what the individual is looking for.
- Peer-led or self-help support groups may be facilitated by group members.
- In a professional-led group, a registered or advanced practice nurse, trained counselor, social worker, or psychologist may facilitate the conversation among the members.
- Informational support groups, led by a professional facilitator, provide cancer-related information and education.
These groups often invite speakers, such as doctors, who can provide expert advice to patients, their families and caregivers.
To decide which type of support group may fit you best, the American Society of Clinical Oncology suggests you consider your needs and personality:
- Do you need emotional support, information and education, or a combination of both?
- Do you prefer sharing your experiences with a group in person? Or, do you prefer an anonymous environment, such as an internet support group?
The American Cancer Society offers online support groups, and Dayton Physicians Network has a partnership with Premier Health to host face-to-face groups, including a prostate cancer support group. New support groups currently are being formed at Miami Valley Hospital South, as well.
Online support groups through American Cancer Society include MyLifeLine.org, where cancer patients and caregivers can connect with family and friends, allowing them to share their cancer journey, get support, and focus on healing. The Cancer Survivors Network allows individuals to create their own personal space to tell their story, share photos, start an online journal (blog), contribute resources, and more.
Dayton Physicians Network’s prostate cancer support group is open to men with prostate cancer and their loved ones, family or friends. It meets at various Premier Health locations on different dates each month – you can click here to view the schedule. DPN also hosts a “Look Good…Feel Better” group several times a year. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, this program is designed to help women undergoing cancer treatment by providing beauty techniques for combatting appearance-related side-effects.More Perspectives