IS A SUPPORT GROUP RIGHT FOR YOU?
One of this foundation’s goals is to help you gain immediate access to the information you can use so you are not researching too much or going beyond where you are presently. Even though you may not feel ill, once again being newly diagnosed can cause emotional fatigue. Make every effort to be kind to your body by resting and choosing actions that you feel are right for you.
As for support groups, know there are various kinds of support groups, just like there are cancers and types of people. Some support groups can cause a person to feel worse. Others can help a person feel enlightened, hopeful, and more upbeat than when they first showed up. If you come to a conclusion by saying, “I’m not the support group type” without even setting foot into a group, perhaps you may wish to give yourself a little more time, or perhaps you indeed not the support group type.
There are also some who make excuses about the time the group meets. It either meets too early or too late or on a weeknight or on a weekend. If This can be a sign of fear or you may be filling your time up with busyness to avoid talking about your cancer. Still, you may just need more time. Or, you may wish to see a professional psychologist or tell your doctor about your avoidance.
SPECIALIZED VS. NON-SPECIALIZED SUPPORT GROUPS
Some support groups are “all cancer” support groups that may not focus solely on breast cancer. Keep in mind that other people attending may have more advanced cancers. Some support groups are also “religious” support groups. While some may meet at churches, inquire as to whether you will be talking about religion or praying or performing any rituals you may feel uncomfortable with. Again, asking questions is your best bet. First, ask yourself, “What are my expectations in a support group? What specific needs am I seeking to fulfill in a support group? Other questions you can ask from whomever is running the support group are:
How long has this group been in existence? Can you bring a family member or friend with you? Who sponsors this group? What is the group’s mission? How do they share information and education? Do the contributions or money raised for the group stay local? Or does the funding go to a national headquarters to be disseminated by a board from another state? Does the organization specialize in providing publications as a source of self-help or do they specialize in being more social? Is the support group run by a hospital? Who facilitates the support group? Does a psychologist run the support group? What is the background of the facilitator? Have they ever had breast cancer?
Again, when it comes to attending a support group, it’s time to take a deep breath, be courageous and attend one or two to get a sense of what they are like and whether you feel you are walking away with some healthy tools that you can use to continue on your journey with breast cancer.