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Over the last 25 years there has been extensive research on the positive effects of support groups as a method of coping with cancer, improving quality of life, and in some studies — even increasing survival.

Research has shown that support groups help reduce the three most significant stressors associated with cancer: unwanted aloneness, loss of control, and loss of hope.

In fact, research conducted at the Cancer Support Community has shown that people who participate in support groups, either face-to-face or online, report significant decreases in depression, increased zest for life, and a new attitude toward their illness.

 

Types of Cancer Support Groups

Support groups are not for everyone. And not all support groups are the same. There are many different types of support groups that provide emotional support for cancer. Some are professionally facilitated; some are facilitated by fellow cancer survivors. Some groups are disease-specific (breast cancer, gyn cancer, etc); age or gender-specific (young adults, women, etc); and some are time-limited (six week series for newly diagnosed cancer, etc).

Ask your healthcare provider, look in your community and search online to see if you can find one that’s right for you. A support group can become a lifeline to information, support and encouragement through good times and bad. Most support groups are free-of-charge and meet on an ongoing basis in your community. Learn more or join one of the Cancer Support Community’s online cancer support groups.

 

Individual, Couple and Family Counseling

Individual counseling offers patients one-to-one time with a mental health professional who is expert in helping people express thoughts, fears, and emotions. If you feel you could benefit from individual counseling, check with your doctor for a referral to a specialist in cancer counseling.

There are times when it is beneficial for a couple or the whole family to sit down with a cancer counselor to talk about relationship or family issues related to the diagnosis and treatment. Your oncologist, oncology social worker or local community support organization should be able to provide you with a list of qualified professionals in your area.

Since there is a generally a charge for private counseling, you may want to check with your insurance company to determine what services and providers are covered under your plan.

 

Finding a Cancer Support Community

Ask your doctor if there is an oncology social worker, psychologist, nurse or chaplain available to talk with you or your family. Ask other family members, friends or fellow patients in the waiting room if they are familiar with any cancer support organizations in your area.

Look online for places like the Cancer Support Community with nationwide centers and online. The Cancer Support Community helps hundreds of thousands of people each year connect with others, learn vital information about diagnosis and treatment, and find hope. If there is not a Community in your area, you will find valuable services right here at CSC’s The Living Room including creating your own private social network or joining a secure, professionally facilitated weekly support group.