Whenever the discussion of cancer support groups comes up, it is usually in the context of support groups for the actual cancer patient. While this is understood as the patient is the most important party involved in the scenario, the family of the patient should never be forgotten or left as an afterthought. The families of cancer patients need support groups as well to be able to adequately perform their role of being a support system to said patients. Not only do they need emotional support for what they are experiencing in the wake of agonizing over a loved one, but they also need assistance to be made fully aware of what is expected and how best to respond to the needs of an ill family member.
How Cancer Support Groups Work
Traditionally, cancer support groups were meetings for only persons the affected by cancer. The idea is to be around persons going through similar struggles, which reduces the isolated feeling that comes with bearing the illness. These groups foster discussions and involve activities that yield positive results for cancer patients such as improving their mental state, fostering a better quality of life, fostering a feeling of comradery, aiding in dealing with practical problems faced by cancer patients, and helping in discussing treatment options and side effects.
While traditional support groups have their place, the realization that loved ones of cancer patients also need assistance has broadened the spectrum to include everyone that is a part of a cancer patient’s journey. This forum provides family members with insights such as information on how the disease works, communication tips to make the cancer patient more comfortable, preparation for the possibility of cancer recurrence, adjusting to post-treatment life, reading and responding to emotions of a cancer patient, and providing adequate care. Usually, only a cancer patient completely understands the experience and these support groups aim to change that.
Types of Support Groups for Families of Cancer Patients
The family of a cancer patient can access two major forms of support groups.
The first is the traditional physical forum. These groups have physical meetings in which participant and a coordinator communicate, share insights, and respond to various points and queries. These meetings follow a scheduled structure and frequency.
The less traditional forum, which is increasing in popularity is the online forum. These can be accessed through websites and apps such as Belong.Life and they provide on demand support, information, and consultation with medical professionals for family members and cancer patients 24/7 to assist in dealing with the complexities of the illness.
Support is an important role and even supporters need to be supported at times.