Ashley Hahn, LCSW
Support groups come in all different forms but the common theme is when you are facing cancer, you don’t need to face it alone. Try a group this week and see what you gain from it. You may be surprised.
One of the many things that Mission Hope Cancer Center does well is provide support in varying forms to patients and their caregivers. If you look at the newsletter every month you can see the large number of activities/classes that are provided free of charge.
A recent study looked at patients going through chemotherapy and found (like previous studies had) that there is an association between loneliness and mortality. Support groups bring people together who are going through similar experiences and this common ground can help take away the feelings of isolation and fill a gap between the medical treatment and the need for emotional support.
The common experiences of people in a support group mean that they may have similar feelings, worries and everyday struggles. Sometimes your experiences may benefit others in the group giving you a feeling of satisfaction helping others. And more often than not, someone else in the group fully understands your struggle and may be able to offer peer support and understanding, which may lead you to needed skills to cope with the challenges.
Other benefits of participating in groups may include:
Feeling less lonely and isolated
Reduction in distress and anxiety
Learning about resources that are beneficial
The hardest part about attending a group is actually making the decision to go. Look at the latest newsletter and circle a few things that may interest you. If you have questions about the group or the format of it talk to Mission Hope staff. They can walk you through how the group is run and what you may gain from it. If you would be more comfortable bringing a friend or advocate with you the first time ask the staff if that is allowed. When joining a new group you may choose to only listen the first few times. After establishing connections with others you may find that contributing your own ideas and experiences may help you get more out of the group. If you try one group and after a few weeks it doesn’t feel like a good fit, then try another. There are so many different types of groups and different formats to choose from. The majority of groups at Mission Hope are “activity” groups, which include exercise and mindfulness therapies in varying forms, crafting, nutrition, self help topics and lecture topics of interest to people with cancer. We found that this format is much less intimidating to people than the general support groups where people are sitting around and talking, sharing feelings. However, we do have several groups with the sharing format.
Please visit our online calendar or newsletter for date, time and location of our groups.
Questions about what support group might be right for you?
Call Ashley Hahn, LCSW Oncology Social Worker in Santa Maria 805-346-3402 or Jenni Davis, Patient Advocate in Arroyo Grande 805-474-5303