About Our Support Groups

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Welcome to our support group information page! All of our cancer support groups are currently online. You may join by video by registering for the group you wish to attend. The registration link can be found on each page (there is a support group webpage in the support group dropdown menu for each type of group).

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Cancer Lifeline’s cancer support group goals?

Our cancer support groups are designed to meet four key needs:

* Members have a place where emotions can be expressed and not judged
* Members gain a sense of community & inclusion with others in a similar situation
* Members find ways in which choice & control can be attained while living with cancer
* Members are provided with opportunities for education and information

How do I join a support group?

We do not have an intake process for our support groups. You can simply explore our support group web pages (each type of support group has its own page) to determine which groups would fit your circumstances. To join a group, register on the page for that group by clicking the link to Zoom that says, “CLICK HERE TO REGISTER” (the text is orange to help locate the link on each support group page). You will be sent to a registration screen from our Cancer Lifeline Zoom account that asks you to fill in some info (this replaces our prior in-person paper registration form we asked every new client to complete), most of which is optional, and helps us understand better who we serve.

How do the groups work? What kinds of experiences should I expect during a support group?

Each of our groups is professionally facilitated by a master’s level therapist, social worker, or nurse. At the beginning of each support group meeting, our support group norms are shared by the facilitator, each of which is designed to support all of the support group members in the group to feel comfortable sharing about their experiences connected to cancer. Often, the facilitator will first invite an individual check-in by each group member, creating space for each person being heard. For the remainder of the group time, topics and themes that arise naturally or through encouragement of the facilitator will form the discussion. Sometimes, groups will host presenters on topics relevant for group members, which will occur for the first hour of the group. You can tell if a presenter will join a meeting by referring to our catalog or checking the web page for the group.

What if I am not within the description of the group and want to join? For example, I am a student wanting to observe or another healing professional interested in facilitating support groups?

Only people within the description of the group that is provided on each group’s web page are welcome to join the group. If you would like to join a group for professional or learning or other purposes, you must connect with our Clinical Program Administrator, Pamela Krueger (info listed at top of each support group page), to determine if there is a possibility for joining as an observer at any group. This allows her to identify a possible group where this may be appropriate and allows the facilitator of that group to check in with support group members beforehand. This is important to maintain group safety and we appreciate your abiding by this requirement.

Why does Cancer Lifeline require group members to join by video?

Developing a sense of community and feeling safe or comfortable in sharing emotions relies upon being able to connect with other group members through human presence. When our groups are offered in person, physical bodily presence is automatic and no one is able to join without showing themselves. In an onscreen environment, this becomes difficult because it is possible not to show oneself.

What will happen if I join a group without video?

If you join a group without video without seeking an exception in advance, the group facilitator will ask you to join by video. If you do not do so and this is your first time attending the group, the support group facilitator will determine whether to allow you to stay based on your responsiveness to questions about why you cannot join by video. If you join a second time without your video and without an exception granted, the group facilitator will remove you from the meeting. Please note: this does not apply to the presentation portion of the meeting, which is case-by-case as determined by the presenter.

What if I am really uncomfortable with “being seen” on video and this will prevent me from attending?

Cancer Lifeline wants to make our groups available to all people who are within the defined scope of each group. We recognize that it can be hard to see yourself on video, and that, in some ways, Zoom acts as a “mirror” because it shows you to yourself on video. Yet, our support group environment is designed to help everyone feel included, regardless of any physical limitations or appearance connected to cancer or its treatment.

We want to help potential new members understand the potential connecting experience that can happen with other members who “get it.” Because verbal communication is a small part of total communication, it is lessened further by having members not being able to see the person speaking. This can contribute to groups not feeling connected to one another and the community they can otherwise create. It also limits the ability of the group facilitator to notice when a group member may need some extra support.

If you still feel uncertain about it, we’d love to talk to you about our cancer support group approach individually. Any person wishing to join a group without their video must submit a request for an exception at least one week in advance of the group they wish to join. Please submit requests for exceptions to: Pamela Krueger, pkrueger@cancerlifeline.org, (206) 832-1271.