Despite the best efforts of family, friends and even your oncology care providers, there are moments when you just can’t keep the uncertainty from getting the better of you. You may question whether you made the best treatment choice, worry about how your next chemo will go, or, feel overwhelmed thinking about what your upcoming scan might show. Next, you may wonder if others living with a cancer diagnosis have the same questions and concerns and how they manage the uncertainty.
Talking with others traveling the same path you are on provides an opportunity to be fully understood and validated. Talking with others who have gone before you and come out the other end can provide the lift you might need when the uncertainty feels bigger than you, when you feel sad, frightened or alone. Many people point to their support group experience as the place where these conversations happen…the place where they moved from surviving to actually thriving while living with cancer. If you are intimidated by the thought of going to a group and “bearing your soul” or being embarrassed should you become emotional, try and let those thoughts rest. Cancer Lifeline’s support groups are all professionally facilitated and you will never be pressured to talk. The primary job of a support group facilitator is to ensure the emotional safety of the group and its members. Our facilitators are all Master’s prepared in social work, nursing, mental health or a related field. Additionally, facilitators receive monthly supervision and debriefing time with the Clinical Program Manager who oversees all of Cancer Lifeline’s support groups.
Finding the right support group for you is key! Not all groups are the same. Groups are organized in a variety of ways. Some, like the Living with Cancer groups, is open to those living with any kind of cancer, and the Women’s Cancer Support is a wonderful place for women with any kind of cancer to get support. Other groups are specific to the type of cancer. Cancer Lifeline offers groups for those living with breast cancer, and oral head and neck cancer. Additionally, we offer two groups for those living with metastatic cancer. The most recent additions to our support group offerings are a young adult cancer group and a group for those living with lymphedema. Several groups are also open to family, friends, and caregivers.
Support groups are also a place to get good, solid, information from expert speakers on a variety of topics. Presentations are scheduled at many groups and cover topics such as nutrition, developing personal exercise programs, building resilience, meditation, and relaxation. Groups are held throughout the Puget Sound Region, at Cancer Lifeline’s Dorothy O’Brien Center in Greenlake and at our partner hospitals, EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Valley Medical in Renton, Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, Northwest Hospital in North Seattle, Seattle Proton Therapy Center, and Virginia Mason Cancer Institute in Seattle and Federal Way.
Please peruse our catalog or go to our website to find a group that feels like a fit for you. If you would like more information about a group before you attend, call Cancer Lifeline’s Lifeline (800-255-5505) and any of our volunteers or staff will be happy to help you.