Support groups can have many benefits

Even though a lot of people receive support from friends and family, the number one reason they join a support group is to be with others who have had similar cancer experiences. Some research shows that joining a support group improves quality of life and enhances survival.

Support groups can:

  • Give you a chance to talk about your feelings and work through them
  • Help you deal with practical problems, such as problems at work or school
  • Help you cope with side effects of treatment

Types of Support Groups and Where To Find Them

There are many different types of support groups. Some may be for one type of cancer only, while others may be open to those with any cancer. Some may be for women or for men only. Support groups may be led by health professionals or fellow cancer survivors. Support groups aren’t just for people who have had cancer. Support groups can be helpful for children or family members of survivors. These groups focus on family concerns such as role changes, relationship changes, financial worries, and how to support the person who had cancer. Some groups include both cancer survivors and family members. Not only do support groups meet in person, they also meet online. Internet support groups can be a big help to people with computers who live in rural areas or who have trouble getting to meetings. Some Internet groups are sponsored by cancer organizations, while others are not monitored. With informal chat groups, you can seek support at any time of the day or night. While these online groups can provide valuable emotional support, they may not always offer correct medical information. Be careful about any cancer information you get from the Internet, and check with your doctor before making any changes that are based on what you read.

Is a Support Group Right for Me?
A support group may not be right for everyone. For some people, hearing about others’ problems can make them feel worse. Or you may find that your need for a support group changes over time. If you are thinking about joining a support group, here are some questions you may want to ask the group’s contact person:

  • How large is the group?
  • Who attends (survivors, family members, types of cancer, age range)?
  • How long are the meetings?
  • How often does the group meet?
  • How long has the group been together?
  • Who leads the meetings—a professional or a survivor?
  • What is the format of the meetings?
    Is the main purpose to share feelings, or do people also offer tips to solve common problems?
  • If I go, can I just sit and listen? Before joining a group, here are questions you may want to ask yourself:
    • Am I comfortable talking about personal issues?
    • Do I have something to offer to the group?
    • What do I hope to gain by joining a group?

Support groups vary greatly, and if you have one bad experience, it doesn’t mean support groups are not a good option for you. You may also want to find another cancer survivor with whom you can discuss your cancer experience. Many organizations can pair you with someone who had your type of cancer and is close to your age and background.

Look Good…Feel Better

A free program that teaches beauty techniques to women who are actively undergoing cancer treatment, to help them combat the appearance-related side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

Additional information about the Breast Cancer Support Group is available by calling the Department of General Surgery at 217.366.1299.

The Christie Clinic Breast Cancer Support Group

The Breast Cancer Support Group meets at 7:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month. The meetings take place in the second floor meeting room at Christie Clinic on Windsor, 1801 West Windsor Road in Champaign. A notice is mailed each month prior to the event. This wellness-focused group is comprised of breast cancer survivors of all ages and experienced health care professionals. Our goal is to share ideas, provide support, answer questions, and offer solutions to problems for people who are coping with breast cancer.

The format of each meeting includes a short presentation by a guest speaker followed by informal group interaction. You may attend as often as you wish, and you can always bring along a family member or friend.

Support Groups
Taking Care of Yourself
Caregiver Roles and Challenges

Cancer Center Specialties

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