Don’t face cancer alone. Whether or not you have a strong group of friends and family members for support, there are many, many professionals, community members, and cancer patients who are there to help support you as you begin the cancer treatment process. And, remember, cancer doesn’t only affect the person who was diagnosed with the disease. It affects their family members and friends as well. There are support groups that meet the needs of both cancer patients and survivors, as well as helps the family members and friends who are facing cancer alongside a loved one.
Talking To Your Medical Professionals
The first step in finding support after a cancer diagnosis is to talk frankly with your primary care physician, your oncologist, and additional specialists that may join your team such as a radiation oncologist, or surgeon. Cancer is a complicated disease and can be confusing and scary. But knowing more about it can make it easier to proceed with treatment and give you more positive outlook on your prognosis.
- Speak frankly to your doctor about your concerns and what is happening with you physically and emotionally. Keep a journal of this information so you don’t forget to ask a question and so your doctors better understand how the disease is affecting you. Ask your doctor to describe in detail the name and stage, or size and progress, of your cancer and describe the symptoms. Make sure you ask your doctor to repeat or rephrase anything you don’t understand. Then, do your own research to dive in deeper into your particular cancer.
- Ask your doctor to tell you about the comprehensive treatment options you may have for your cancer, along with their side effects. Learn as much as you can from your specialists about each type of treatment so you can make the best decision moving forward for you.
- Tell you doctor about any concerns you have regarding paying for your cancer treatment. They can help you find the best ways to manage the costs.
- Have someone attend doctor visits with you to take notes, get a fresh perspective on what the doctor says, and even record your conversations with the doctor.
- Decide with your medical team how you want to communicate on a regular basis. Do you want to receive updates from each specialist as you go through treatment, or funnel information through a primary doctor? What type of details do you want? Assign a family member or friend as a person who can also receive these updates.
- Ask your medical team about support groups in the area that you might become part of.
What Do Support Groups Do?
Support groups bring together people who are going through or have gone through similar experiences and can be an important resource for people diagnosed with cancer and anyone touched by the disease. Even though you may receive support from your friends and family, patients find that being with others with similar cancer experiences is a huge benefit with many rewards. Some research shows that joining a support group improves both quality of life and survival.
Support groups can:
- Help you feel more in control, more hopeful, and less lonely
- Reduce distress, depression, anxiety or fatigue
- Improve your skills to cope with challenges
- Provide an chance for you to talk openly and honestly, sharing your personal experiences and feelings, coping strategies, or firsthand information about diseases or treatments
- Help you deal with practical problems, such as problems at work or school
- Help you stay motivated to manage chronic conditions, stick to treatment plans, and cope with side effects of treatment
- Fill a gap of emotional support between your medical team that may not provide enough emotional support and your family/friends who may not really understand the impact of the disease and treatment
- Learn about health, economic or social resources
What Types of Support Groups Are Available?
Your medical professionals and hospital can help you find a variety of support groups that meet in person throughout Orange County, and that are online. Some of the support groups include patients with any type of cancer, while others are specific to age, gender or type of cancer. For example, you may find a group that only focuses on women with breast cancer, or men with prostate cancer, or teens and children with brain cancer.
There are also support groups that are meant for children, family, friends, or caregivers of cancer patients. These groups can support those who may be tasked with caring for the patient, worrying about finances, or wanting ways to best support the patient.
There are many online support groups that “meet” online. People meet through chat rooms, listservs, webinars, social media (such as Twitter or Facebook), or moderated discussion groups. Online support groups are convenient for people who want to participate anytime throughout the day or night or for those who live in rural areas where they would have to travel a good distance to meet face-to-face. Some of these groups are sponsored by cancer organizations while others are not monitored at all. Cancer Support Community offers a variety of online support including message boards moderated by a licensed professional, online chat, a helpline, as well as a blogspace where you can share your journey and receive words of support, inspiration and encouragement. Remember, to always check with your medical team to make sure information you receive from support groups is correct.
Where Can I Find A Support Group?
Many hospitals, cancer centers, community groups, and schools offer cancer support groups. Here are some ways to find groups near you:
- Call your local Los Angeles area hospital or Orange County CyberKnife & Radiation Oncology Center and ask about cancer support programs in the Orange County area.
- Ask your social worker to suggest groups.
- Do an online search for groups.
- The American Cancer Society offers a variety of support resources and programs including a Reach To Recovery program, where they match you with a volunteer for one-on-one support, rides to treatment, patient lodging, hair loss and mastectomy products, and more.
- The National Cancer Information Center offers a variety of support services including 24/7 phone or online chat line with trained cancer information specialists and connections with valuable services and resources in your Orange County community.
- The Orange County Cancer Coalition website offers a directory of support organizations throughout Southern California. Many of these organizations offer local support groups and meetings for different types of cancer and for different groups of people.
Let Orange County CyberKnife Help
While you may be blessed with an abundance of family members and friends who are there for you during your cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of cancer experts at Orange County CyberKnife. Our radiation oncologists and team of medical professionals are the some of the best in the country – and some are known for their medical expertise throughout the world. Along with providing the finest radiation cancer treatments available for most types of cancer, we have the experience and knowledge to answer your cancer-related questions and to put you in touch with local support groups and resources that you may need. To find out more about cancer support or OC CyberKnife, call 714-962-7100 or submit our convenient online appointment form. Remember, you never have to go through cancer alone. We are here to help.