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How Do I Find a Cancer Support Group?

A complete guide on how to find a cancer support group that fits your needs.

How Do I Find a Cancer Support Group?

Being diagnosed with cancer is an extremely emotional experience. It can be a very confusing time with a whirlwind of feelings. You don’t have to go through this experience alone. A cancer support group can help make the experience easier.

You can find a cancer support group by:

  • Reaching out to your local hospital
  • Completing an internet search
  • Discussing options with other cancer patients
  • Asking your social worker

There are thousands of cancer support groups across the country that cater to every age group, style of support, and type of cancer. Finding a support group may be as easy as completing a simple internet search but finding a group that fits your emotional needs may consider a bit more thought.

In this article, we will give you all of the resources you need to find a local cancer support group along with suggestions on what to consider when choosing a support group that is right for you. 

How Do Cancer Support Groups Help?

You can experience a wide range of emotions when being diagnosed with cancer: fear, anger, disbelief, and depression. It is a lot to unpack and coping with this wave of emotion can be extremely difficult. 

While families and loved ones are a great resource, they may not understand the difficulties that you are experiencing. You may have thoughts or feelings that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with the people closest to you. That is where support groups come in.

Support groups offer a safe place to express all of the emotions that you’re feeling as a cancer survivor. It’s a group of people who are all going through a similar experience to you. Meeting with a group of like-minded individuals can help you feel supported in your journey and help you feel less helpless or less alone.

While support groups aren’t right for everybody, they are a great option to try as you adapt to this new reality.

Steve

Read More About Steve’s Prostate Cancer Story.

It’s destructive to men to make them feel like they’re a wuss if they talk about their pain. I do not agree or subscribe to that at all. I live and speak very openly and encourage others to do the same.

-Steve R.

Which Type of Cancer Support Groups Are Available?

Every person has unique interests and needs. Therefore, one type of support won’t fit every individual. That’s why there is a variety of different types of support groups to fit the need of every individual.

Peer-led Support Groups

Peer-led support groups are run by the members of the group. This is a great option for someone looking for a sense of community and a place to work through their emotions with friends. 

Professional-led Support Groups

Professional-led support groups are led by a trained professional such as a:

  • Social worker
  • Counselor
  • Psychologist
  • Other trained professional

This is a great option for someone who is looking for guidance on how to cope with their emotions. It’s still in a group setting so you still get the sense of community and the experience of hearing how others are handling the same situation.

Informational Support Groups

Informational support groups are great for individuals who are looking to learn more about their specific form of cancer and treatment. They are usually led by a professional who then invites doctors, nurses, etc. to give talks on subjects the group is interested in learning more about.

Online Support Groups

You may live in a remote area, not want to travel often, or even feel uncomfortable meeting in person. Online support groups are available to connect people across the world with a community of individuals going through the same experience. 

Groups Designed for Specific Audiences

In order to help you connect with people in a similar situation as you, most support groups are geared towards a specific audience. The type of audiences may be broken down by:

  • Age group
  • Type of cancer
  • Specific stage of cancer

If you’d rather just meet with other individuals with cancer or a wide age range, some groups cater to a more general population as well.

How Do I Choose a Cancer Support Group?

With so many options for support you may be wondering, how do I choose the right group for me? Three are a couple of questions that you should ask yourself before deciding on a support group.

  • What type of support am I looking for? Emotional, professional, or informational?
  • What demographic am I most comfortable sharing personal information with?
  • Am I looking for a large group or a small group?
  • When does the group meet? How often?
  • Where is the group located?
  • Who leads the group?
  • Do I want an online group or an in-person group?

Once you’ve considered some of these questions, reach out to the group organizer and talk over any concerns or questions you may have. You can also try out a couple of different support groups before deciding on one that you will attend regularly.

Read More About Lia’s Cancer Story.

The only way you can go is forward, so keep going. You have a community of people who are waiting to support you and love you. I hope you’ll connect with those around you and other cancer survivors because we are here for you.

-Lia S.

Online Resources for Finding a Cancer Support Group

Now that we’ve had the opportunity to identify which types of support groups are available and the things to consider when choosing a group it’s time to start searching! Here are some resources to help you narrow down your search.

The American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society has a wonderful database full of support groups of all kinds and sizes. On their website, you can search for a support group by zip code, city, and state. You can even narrow down your search by selecting a specific keyword that interests you.

If you prefer an online support group to an in-person support group, you can sign up for their Cancer Survivors Network which allows you to connect with thousands of other cancer survivors via chat rooms and messaging boards.

Cancer.Net

Cancer.net is another wonderful resource for finding support groups specific to your type of cancer. Similar to the American Cancer Society they have a general database of cancer support groups. 

However, they also have a drop-down option to select specific resources geared towards a specific kind of cancer. This feature is extremely helpful when trying to find a support group that is right for you.

Cancer Support Community

If you are looking for a more informal way to connect with the cancer community cancersupportcommunity.orgoffers a way to connect online. They have a blog and messaging board that is great for getting information and asking questions about the information that has been presented.

They also support traditional in-person support groups through their find a location feature. Additionally, if you are looking for immediate support they have a cancer support helpline that is available from 9 am to 5 pm 7 days a week.

Use Your Care Team as a Reference

While online resources can be a great way to start looking at what groups are available, your care team is the best reference for finding a local support group. Make sure to ask them what support groups they recommend and give them a try.

Ultimately, there is no one specific support group that is a perfect fit for every individual. Keep trying support groups until you feel that you’ve found a community that works for your and helps you through your treatment and beyond. 

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