Why You Do Need a Support Group (even if you think you don't)

This week, I am inviting some folks-authors, health care providers, movie makers, and more to share some of their experiences with you.
“A cancer diagnosis profoundly affected all my relationships: family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances. Unless those folks had experienced it themselves, they could not comprehend the emotions with which I grappled. Finding a cancer support group became essential to my psyche.
My quest to find understanding soul mates ended when I joined a breast cancer support group after my first chemotherapy infusion. We met at a hospital where a facilitator led our group discussions. How therapeutic for the newly diagnosed! We young women shared our ups and downs, silly things well-meaning people said to us, how to handle our children’s needs, and tips on caring for ourselves during treatment.
As we completed chemo and radiation we sensed that we had outgrown the need for a clinical setting. We decided to assemble at a member's home once every few months instead of meeting at the hospital every two weeks. What a pleasant change from the sterile environment of a conference room!
After my family moved to a rural community, I continued to attend the support group for a while. About two years later the group disbanded and my cancer returned. Since no conveniently located support group existed nearby, I joined an online group. This forum provided information beyond what I found on the Internet and in the literature.
I have found support groups generally useful, but the commonality that brings the members together in the first place often doesn’t last. Personal interests often diverge when cancer is no longer the focal point for the group.
Social isolation need not follow a cancer diagnosis. Find a cancer support group through local hospitals, clinics and the Internet. Help is only a phone call or click away. Let your fingers do the clicking through the Google pages. You’ll be surprised at the variety of ways your needs will be met.

Jan Hasak is a motivational speaker and author. At seminars and other venues she conveys a “cancer thriver” attitude. As an attorney at a leading biotechnology firm, Genentech, Inc., she wrote patents for over 20 years. Her book Mourning Has Broken: Reflections on Surviving Cancer chronicles her hope-filled journey through breast cancer. She can be reached at [email protected] or by visiting www.janhasak.com.

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