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Learning from Each Other: The Power of Shared Experiences

Learning from Each Other: The Power of Shared Experiences

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ~Brené Brown

We humans are social beings at the core of our existence. Yes, we all need our ‘alone’ time and some of us tend to be more introverted, letting days go by without contact with others. However, we cannot survive without some level of connection. Social connection is critical to our health and well-being. It can help us manage depression and anxiety and is one of the key elements in successfully navigating a cancer journey. Cancer is an isolating experience. When we muster up the courage to speak about our feelings to others, a powerful connection is created that automatically boosts our self-esteem and resiliency. Cancer Lifeline has over two dozen cancer support groups to help you feel that much- needed connection.

There are all kinds of reasons we tell ourselves not to talk to others about challenges or concerns we are struggling with. Sometimes we fear feeling vulnerable. We don’t want to ‘burden’ others with our problems we are struggling with. Here’s the thing though, you are not alone! Every one of us has these same thoughts and feelings running through our heads and nothing good will come from hunkering down with “me, myself and I” for days on end. We run the risk of getting caught in that crazy cycle of unwanted thoughts that can raise our stress, anxiety, and fear. Having the opportunity to talk about all that is running through our heads diminishes the power those unwanted thoughts have over us!

Those who attend cancer support groups and classes often say that finally they were with others who understood how they were feeling and felt the same way. They ‘got it.’ Interacting with others who shared similar experiences led to feeling they belonged, were not so alone, and were not judged. Others speak about learning new ways of coping and managing as they learn about resources they didn’t even know were available to them. In essence, sharing your experience and listening to the experiences of others provides a release, an opportunity to learn that builds trust and connection.

Sometimes our family and friends want to be a source of support for us, but we are hesitant to engage, due to fears of embarrassment or of being a burden on others. Remember, you most likely are not the only person in your network of family and friends who would find value in connecting and sharing stories, thoughts, and feelings. We are all going through something. More times than not, when we choose to share what is important to us with others, they feel honored and humbled that we reached out to them. People do genuinely want to help.

Cancer Lifeline’s FREE Programs and Services for CANCER PATIENTS, SURVIVORS, and CAREGIVERS are here to help you!

Register to join Online Support Groups. Nothing can compare to the feeling of being part of a community of people who truly understand your experience and “get it.” Support groups (all cancers & cancer specific) meet regularly and welcome new members! For dates and times go to the Cancer Lifeline Support Group page on our website. Call the Lifeline or connect through Lifeline Chat. Need someone to listen and help you sort out your feelings? Call the Lifeline at (800) 255-5505 or (206) 297-2500 (9am-5pm). Lifeline Chat can be accessed by clicking the green “We are here to listen” button on any page of our website.

Access Cancer Lifeline’s Cancer Specific Psychotherapy and Family Support Programs: Contact Pamela Krueger at pkrueger@cancerlifeline.org or 206-832-1271

Access Cancer Lifeline’s Therapist Referral Program: Receive names of therapists in the local community who have experience working with people affected by cancer. Referrals and support in choosing a therapist are available for patients, survivors, family members, friends, and oncology professionals. Referrals are free. Cancer Lifeline does not arrange payment with therapists on behalf of clients or check insurance benefits, this is the client’s responsibility. For more information, call the Lifeline at 206-297-2500 between the hours of 9 am- 5 pm or visit: https://cancerlifeline.org/counseling-services/

Access Cancer Lifeline’s presentations and classes (creative expression, exercise and movement, nutrition, and stress reduction) by going to the Cancer Lifeline website or calling the Lifeline: (800) 255-5505 or (206) 297-2500 (M-F 9am-5pm PST.)

You can now participate in our support groups and classes online from the comfort of your home!