Many women find a breast cancer support group creates a unique opportunity to connect with others who are going through similar things. Many partners of women with breast cancer say joining a support group for caregivers has also helped them through the challenging and scary time. Some cancer survivors—and their family and friends—decide to become involved with local or national breast cancer advocacy organizations. Still others find that the best way to get support is online, through listservs, message boards, and online discussion groups.
Support Groups and Advocacy Organizations
Many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have found joining a support group can help them manage the wide range of feelings and fears they experience during and after their cancer treatment. In addition, many partners of women with breast cancer say joining a support group for caregivers helped them through the challenging and scary time.
In a support group you can meet other women who are at various stages of the disease—including some who had it 10 or 15 years ago and are living happy, healthy lives. Knowing long-term survivors can help you to realize you're not necessarily doomed. And knowing other women who are at your stage can give you a sense of comradeship with people who understand what's happening to you because it's also happening to them. Indeed, you might want to look into a group even before your treatment begins.
Some people prefer support groups that meet in person. Others feel more comfortable communicating their feelings in support groups that meet online or on the telephone. (Online and telephone groups also work well for those who live in rural areas or can't easily leave their home.)
Before you attend your first support group meeting, you may want to find out how many people are in the group, how long it has been running, and if the group has a professional facilitator, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker (if that is important to you). You may also want to find out if the group is only for women who are newly diagnosed or also includes women with metastatic disease. For some women who are newly diagnosed, being in a support group with women with metastatic disease may not be helpful. You will also want to find out if the group is free (most are). If there is a fee, you should contact your health insurance provider to find out whether this is covered by your plan.
Don't be discouraged if the first support group you find isn't right for you. Some women need to try more than one group before they find the setting that is right for them.