Support groups at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center are one facet of complementary care for patients and their families diagnosed with cancer. One patient summed up his experience of being diagnosed with cancer like this, “I realized that being diagnosed with cancer is partly about me and mostly about managing everyone else around me.” When I have quoted those words to new patients I see a glimmer of agreement in their eyes. Support is a hard word to define for a cancer patient at any stage of their diagnosis and treatment. From the perspective of many patients, the question regarding support is “How do I stay in control of this chaos?” Patients are often looking for support that helps them stay in control. There is solid research on this subject as well.
One article from WebMD discussed research that showed cancer patients find the best support comes from family and friends. The same study revealed family and friends often don’t feel qualified to give the support their loved ones need. Findings from a 2016 focus group conducted by the American Cancer Society in our locale, found patients reported support from their loved ones was terrific — right up until the end of treatment. Then suddenly they were expected to go back to normal again. For many patients, the end of treatment is just the beginning of recovery. They still depend on the support and encouragement of their loved ones.
Support groups at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center are an integral part of care. The most common reason a person comes to a cancer related support group is to connect with someone else who is having a similar experience. The emotions around such an encounter are often joyful even when the circumstances are difficult.
Other reasons why people come to support groups are: to gain information, develop realistic expectations or other coping mechanisms, to help someone else, to talk to people outside of their normal circle of family and friends, to vent frustrations or fears, for a different perspective or to retell one’s story in an environment where people care to listen. Some support groups welcome family and friends who have also come to learn and share from experience.
Support groups at the Cancer Center are open so people can participate without committing to every meeting. We also recognize that support doesn’t always come through talking. Some of our groups are topic based like Ask a Dietician. Support groups can focus on coping skills through groups like Art Expressions, or Mindfulness Meditation. Support groups like WellFit® or Gentle Yoga provide physical exercise and another opportunity for social connections while on the road to recovery. Most of the support groups are open without an appointment. Some programs require appointments or preauthorization and some groups are held off site. Please check the listings or call the resource line 737-3432 for additional information. Yes, you can manage the chaos, and occasionally others can step in to help you when you need it.