In a post I wrote about support groups for my Everyday Health blog, I received this comment from Gerrianne:
“I feel that it is absolutely necessary to be my own best advocate and the best place to learn how to do that is in a group of other well-educated patients and their caregivers. We know what life post diagnosis is like and we help each other in ways that no docs, nurses, clergy, well meaning friends and family possibly can. We laugh, we cry, we bitch and we push and pull each other! We mourn the losses, celebrate small and large victories and we educate ourselves and others. But most importantly-we embrace each other and our lives.”
I think she described what I envision as the great potential of cancer support groups.
We are all part of communities of one sort or another. A church community, a work community, a family community, an educational community. I’ve had jobs where co-workers were like family to me, we supported and cared for each other for years. We all need community in some form. We all belong to groups of people who support us, even though we don’t use the term “support group”.
I’ve noticed from being in the nursing community for so long, that nurses connect in ways unique to our profession, our calling. We seem to find a sort instant camaraderie when we are together. My best friend of 30 years is a nurse, my husband is a nurse…we all seem woven from the same cloth.
We all need to feel connected to other people, we all need to belong. We all need to feel understood.
I think those of us in the cancer community, whether we label our involvement as a “support group” or not, have a lot to offer each other. As Gerrianne said, “We know what life post diagnosis is like and we help each other in ways that no docs, nurses, clergy, well meaning friends and family possibly can”. We share so much.
We truly need each other as we travel the road cancer puts before us. We are best able to support each other, to understand our mutual journeys and to help educate each other. I know when I meet another cancer patient, I instantly feel a bond. We understand each other in ways no one else can. I’ve loved meeting other cancer patients and survivors in my work with the American Cancer Society, the Scientist-Survivor Program, in my oncologist’s office, and even many of you I’ve “met” on-line.
I think even if we don’t join “cancer support groups”, it benefits us to reach out to others diagnosed with cancer. We have a lot to offer each other.