Cancer Support Groups Provide Balance and Help

I’m very excited about today’s post! Recently, I was supervising this blog and was prompted to approve a post of an individual who wished to contact me. This isn’t unheard of, and often I’m excited by the opportunity to discuss the effects of cancer, cancer treatments, experiences, and most importantly how we as members of the cancer community can give back.

This post asked if I believed in allowing others the opportunity to ghost write. I think this is a great idea, because it allows more voices to be heard and an opportunity for readers to see the larger cancer picture. David Haas’ beautifully written post , which follows, thoroughly explains the availability of cancer support groups and the differences that exist between  the different styles of support. I hope that you enjoy his writing and appreciate his focus on the mental and emotional side of the broader cancer experience.

How Cancer Support Groups Help Cancer Patients

One of the fastest growing diseases affecting many people is cancer with some of examples being breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and mesothelioma. While the impact, treatment and life expectancy of each cancer may vary; there is one thing that stays the same. There will always be people to help you with the fight. Cancer is often dreaded because of the debilitating effects it has on the physical, emotional and social life of patients, families, friends and caregivers. However, with new treatment methods and successful support groups, survivorship and recovery have improved. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, becoming a member of a cancer support group to help you on your journey is critical to your managing the disease and living a fulfilled life.

A wide range of support groups and programs that cater to the different needs and types of cancers are available. In addition, there are special cancer survivor networks that are designed for men, women and teens, transportation, lodging and education classes. Cancer support groups play an important role in helping men and women understand and cope with this disease. These include people who have been diagnosed with cancer, those undergoing treatment, those who are in remission as well as survivors.

Cancer support groups may help cancer patients experience a better quality of life, which includes improved self-worth and interpersonal relationships with family and friends. People who are in support programs are likely to be less anxious and to feel hopeless. In addition, support networks can educate you on cancer treatments, challenges, recovery and coping methods as you learn from their experiences.

Regardless of your situation you should be able to find a cancer support group to help meet your needs. If you prefer the face-to-face interaction, you may join a group where members meet in person. However, for those who desire less personal contact and who may have difficulties traveling to meetings, there are online as well as telephone support groups where you can share you story and your feelings. You may also find support groups that are organized at the workplace, in the community and at medical facilities.

With the many cancer support networks that exist, it is important for you to find the one that best fits your needs. Here are some great online resources, which can help you find cancer support networks and groups:

American Association for Cancer Research – Article on how to choose a support group

Inspire

By: David Haas

I believe that Haas’ writing brings to life an important side of cancer treatment, one that is often misunderstood, and forgotten, that being the mental and emotional toll that cancer can take.  I believe that, often, we become obsessed with the medical aspect of treatment, that we  neglect the  lingering effects of this disease, and its impact upon the patient, the caregivers, and family/friends. Cancer takes its toll, and has been compared to war, and in many ways it is.  This is evident in the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) article on the effects of cancer, where they draw a comparison between war-time Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the development of PTSD following cancer treatments. The NCI’s recognition of cancer related PTSD further illustrates the importance that Haas discusses. Like Haas, I highly encourage cancer patients and their support structures to look into these forms of care, because the lasting effects on the patient and those that surround them will far exceed the diagnosis and the disease.

To supplement Haas’ links for cancer patients, I have included a link which provides support groups  for caregivers and families: Caregiver and Family Support Groups

I would like to thank David Haas for his time, and efforts and I hope that this article and the links provided will aid others in finding the help that they need.

Furthermore, if you enjoyed this article or wish to add a post, as well, feel free to contact me and we will hopefully work together to bring this terrible disease to an end.

Empty House…

November 15, 2009

 

Empty House

The countdown to the sale of my house is now on five days. This coming Friday, all of the turmoil, work, and mental preparation for the sale of my house will be over.  This past Saturday, we emptied my house of all of the major furniture and it is looking like a more polished version of the house that I bought.  I can remember my first night in the house more than six years ago: me alone on an air mattress with nothing in the house except a clock, a couple blankets, the smell of fresh paint, and a great deal of ambition and hope for what the future held.  I think it will be fitting that my final night in my house is gearing up to look very much like it did when it began. Tomorrow, I head back to my home, possibly for the final time to do some cleaning and touch ups on the paint, so that I can hand it over to a young pup looking to own his first home. I wonder if his first night in the house will look like mine did. 

I think tomorrow, will be an emotional evening and I’m looking forward in some ways, to a night alone in the house to mull over the last few years and the various events that have occurred while I have lived in that house. Those moments have been a rollercoaster of emotions positive, and depressing, but I’m curious to see how I will fare when I’m thrust into the final moments of all of these memories.  Even more so, I’m curious to see if my first night without the house will be like the first:  one of wishful ambition.

Happy Friendship Day!

August 2, 2009

“The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”
– George Washington

I found these quotes particularly poignant for today’s posting, because I’ve been asked recently about the role that friends play during cancer diagnoses, treatments and even during the passing of a loved one.  I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity to respond to this question, because it means that people are actively thinking about their role in someone’s life when tragic news hits… whether it’s a cancer patient diagnosis or a close friend having difficult times… these people were thinking about how they could best be supportive and helpful.  So, I’m going to do my best to give you my interpretation of what I expected and what I’ve come to expect of myself as others enter in and out of these valleys of their lives.

When my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer of an undetermined origin back in January of 2009, I read ravenously searching for every possible angle that might prolong his life, but secondly I began looking to others for insight, to act as a sounding board, or sometimes to distract me from the looming conversation of mortality. 

What I found was a myriad of responses; some overwhelmingly positive and still others that were shockingly negative.  In this post I think it’s best to focus on the positive.  If at some other point, people wish me to speak of the effects of negative friendship reactions, I will do so. 

The people who went above and beyond, I can not even begin to thank, because mere words do not completely encapsulate how loving, kind and gernerous they were and are. Their actions such as calling without prompt, sening emails, texts, showing up and more importantly and simply just asking about how my father was doing, or how my mother was coping were instrumental.  Those actions created an avenue for conversation, a means for my mother, my father, and me to discuss the extreme wave of emotions that existed within.  The trick is that each of my family members were attempting to remain strong for the rest of the family.  For me personally, I was attempting to keep my parents spirits high, not because I was trying to mislead them with false hopes, but because I really believed everything was going to be okay. I thought that if I worked hard enough, read enough, did enough, prayed enough, that somehow everything would work out. That page is sounds very familiar to Michael J. Fox (the Eternal Optimist), I believe that positive thinking can often  aid in the healing process where medicine can not.  Yet, even with as much positivity as I had, there were still moments of dread, concern, and fear, that needed to be expressed and the people who did all of the above provided me with the outlet to express those emotions.  That release allowed me to re-energize and come back the next day fighting.  The thing that impressed me the most were some of these people that responded, I hadn’t spoken to in years, yet our ties of friendship transcended the time gap and they were there when I needed them.  That to me is the definition of true friendship. 

I think the only other piece of advice that can really be given for someone who is trying to make sure that they there for their friends is to remember that the hard times don’t go away when the hustle and bustle subside. Sometimes that’s when your friends need you the most, as they are reacclamating themselves into their “normal” life, with either this new piece to cope with, or with the absence of something or someone that they  cared about. 

Either way remember the following lines:

“When true friends meet in adverse hour;
‘Tis like a sunbeam through a shower.
A watery way an instant seen,
The darkly closing clouds between.”
– Sir Walter Scott

Ask yourself the question, what have you done to cultivate your friendships? Because if you haven’t been there for them, how do you know that they will be there for you?