Posted by: Kathy | September 16, 2011

Guest Blog: The Power of People Working Together

Happy Friday. Today’s blog, written by guest blogger David Haas, discusses the benefits of cancer support groups and cancer survivor networks. He provides a variety of links throughout the article for further information.

The Power of People Working Together

A cancer diagnosis changes one’s life forever. From adjusting to changes in lifestyle to sifting through all the treatment options, cancer patients have many questions and many struggles. These questions and struggles do not have to go on without help from others. There are many groups for common cancer such as colon cancer, breast cancer, and skin cancer.  There are even groups for very rare and terminal cancers. In a serious condition, such as mesothelioma, one might have a greater sense of urgency and worry. The mesothelioma life expectancy is usually just a few more months after the diagnosis, making every day and every action count. Fortunately, many cancer survivor networks and support groups exist to help a patient cope with their new life.

Cancer survivor networks provide a support system of people who help each other during all stages of cancer. Groups exist for cancer survivors, those undergoing treatment and those whose cancer is in remission. Some networks focus on one type of cancer, while others are just general support groups for all types of cancer patients. Medical professionals or social workers usually lead these survivor networks. Many different organizations, particularly non-profits such as churches and community centers, host these groups. Hospitals sometimes offer them as well, and networks can also be found on the Internet. Most groups are free but some require a small fee or dues.

Cancer survivor networks provide many benefits for their members. For example, they are a crucial resource for those who have questions about treatment options, particularly the side effects. However, besides facts and figures, cancer survivor networks also support a cancer patient’s unique psychological and emotional needs. In a study performed by Cain, Kohorn, Quinlan, Latimer and Schwartz, women with gynecological cancer, who participated in thematic counseling, were significantly less depressed, more knowledgeable about their illness, less anxious and had a better relationship with their caregivers than those who did not participate in thematic counseling. Further information on the research can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3079660. Cancer survivor networks, therefore, can help improve a cancer patient’s overall quality of life.

Whether conversing with other patients in person during a support group meeting or typing about one’s experiences online, cancer survivor networks help empower cancer patients and give them back some control over their lives. Living with cancer is difficult to endure on one’s own. Cancer support networks show patients that they are not alone in their struggle, and they can lessen the effects of cancer.

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