Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Guest post on the value of support groups for those touched by cancer

Today, friends, I give you a guest posting from cancer patient advocate,  David Haas. If you have a moment, please check out his site. We can all use a little more education on how to take back some control over cancer and its impact on ourselves and those we love.  Thank you, David, for lending a hand at spreading the love.

Three Groups of People Who Need Cancer Support Groups
Cancer support groups are everywhere these days. The reasons that they have proliferated are obvious and are supported by research as well. Multiple studies have shown that patients who participate in support groups, especially groups that target their specific type of cancer such as mesothelioma, prostate cancer or breast cancer, have a greatly improved quality of life. Some studies have even suggested that a patient's regular participation in a support group can even increase his lifespan. However, people other than just the cancer patient himself can take part in a support community or online chat group.

Of course, the most obvious member of a cancer support group is the patient himself. Many patients are reluctant to take part in group counselling and need the support and encouragement of close family members and friends to be confident enough to participate. However, the National Cancer Institute states on its support and resource page that group counselling can greatly reduce the patient's stress. Patients have a variety of needs that only other patients can understand or that only a trained professional can understand.

Another group that often attends these support groups is the cancer survivor. This person can provide a great deal comfort and understanding for the current sufferer since he can understand exactly the type of treatments and stressors that the patient is undergoing. In addition, the survivor still needs emotional support as he undergoes continual testing and as he continues to deal with stress.

However, the group that is most often forgotten but that needs these cancer support groups as much as the patients themselves do is the patient's family members. These people also suffer a great deal of stress. The spouse may experience an increased workload and feel great concern for the future while children may feel frightened or neglected. Attending a support group can teach the family how to cope with the disease themselves.

Cancer is one of the most difficult diseases to deal with mentally, emotionally and physically. Every patient needs someone to let him know that he is not alone. Specialty doctors such as hematologists, oncologists or mesothelioma doctors can recommend area groups in which the patients and the patient's family members can become involved for physical and emotional support.

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