Support can mean different things to different people, and it can come in different forms. For example, the Canadian Cancer Society has resources that can get you involved in one-on-one support (such as meeting with someone who has recently gone through cancer treatments) or group support. Some like to meet with those undergoing the same experiences, others prefer to reach out to their friends and families for support, some people prefer health care professionals such as social workers or psychologists, and others may find a combination of support sources works best.
Whatever you prefer, it's important to have an outlet for your fears and anxieties, to understand that you're not alone and that it's okay to ask for help. Research shows that people who join support groups, for instance, enjoy a much better quality of life than those who don't.
Most hospitals and cancer clinics organize support groups or can refer you to one. Ask about groups in your area, especially if you don't live near a hospital. Or look in the phone book for resource listings such as the Canadian Cancer Society.
There are 3 very good reasons to join a support group. First, it allows participants to express their needs and worries, share their stories, and talk to people who know exactly how you're feeling. Second, the group is usually up to date on the latest treatment news and research. Not only can they answer many of your questions, it's also a forum where you can learn about practical coping strategies, such as dealing with the kids when you're exhausted, tips on what foods are best to eat if you're feeling sick, and ideas on how to discuss your illness with friends and co-workers.
Finally, support groups are also a great way to learn about different sources of receiving help while you undergo treatment. For example, there are organizations that can assist in transporting you to and from your treatments, and volunteers who can help you prepare for your appointments and wait with you while you are receiving treatment.
An alternative resource is the Internet, with its many virtual support and chat groups. Here, even housebound people can find comfort online. Many who aren't confined to the home prefer the anonymity and convenience of cyberspace support groups over a face-to-face encounter. The advantage is that no one has to know who you really are, and the best part is that Internet support groups are almost always available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So if you can't sleep in the middle of the night, there's a good chance there's someone else on the computer too. If you feel too ill to leave the house but can get to the computer keyboard, you can still connect with someone and get the support that you need. Many strong friendships have formed via the Internet. It has really made a difference in many lives!
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