Sunday, October 16, 2011

You Shouldn't Have To Face It Alone.

Today's blog post comes from a guest. I had never considered letting someone else put their words on my page completely, but I think this article is one we can all relate to. As I have said time and time again, I would not be able to handle cancer if I did not have the support that I do. My support team has become my family.

Healing Communities: Support Groups for Cancer Patients and Survivors.

There is a reason why cancer patients and survivors share such a deep and obvious bond. Those who haven’t experienced receiving a diagnosis, and enduring cancer treatment can’t possibly understand the full spectrum of emotions that come with it. Cancer, once only spoken about in hushed tones, has come into the light of public awareness. Nowadays, most of our lives will be affected by cancer at some point. According to the National Cancer Institute, one's lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer is 40.77%, meaning that one of every two men and women will have cancer within their lifetime. As a result of these growing numbers, the need for supportive care outside of the clinic walls has expanded. With the improved availability of support groups for cancer patients and survivors, medical professionals have discovered that these groups do more than provide an emotional outlet. Some studies suggest that they may actually help patients live longer.

In 1989 Dr. David Spiegel published the results of a groundbreaking study. Women with breast cancer had received a combination of group therapy and training in self-hypnosis. When compared to a control group, their life expectancy was no less than double. Although subsequent attempts to replicate the study have had mixed results (these studies failed to also include self-hypnosis training), the potential for improved quality of life and improved pain management is
well substantiated by both doctors and patients.

So what can one expect to find at a cancer support group? While some groups may be open to both patients and survivors of any form of cancer, still others may cater to a more specific group. Often, the needs of survivors may be different than those of patients who are still receiving treatment. For example, an individual with
mesothelioma may be dealing not only with medical care, but legal issues that stem from the environmental exposure that caused it. Additionally, mesothelioma life expectancy is, on average, shorter than for someone with a slow-moving form of lymphoma. Therefore, his group may deal with issues of grief and mortality differently. On the other end of the spectrum, those who have moved on to being survivors may need community support as they deal with the many ways in which cancer has changed their finances, relationships, appearances, fertility and life's priorities.

No matter what the focus of a cancer support group might be, the universal benefit lies in the basic human need to feel understood. We are social creatures and sometimes the mere knowledge that other people have stood in our shoes and survived is enough to dispel fear and lift a tremendous weight from our shoulders. Cancer is a life changing illness for all who experience it. Thankfully, it's one that needn't be faced alone.

By: David Haas

Thank you, David, for bringing your article to me to share with others! 
To view David's blog:

1 comment:

Rich McDonald said...

Thanks for sharing this "guest" post. So true.