Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guest post - Finding the Right Cancer Support Network for You

Recently I was contacted by someone who happened upon my little blog, and who wanted to share some information that some of my readers might find helpful.  David Haas is a guest contributor to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance blog and maintains his own blog.  I feel honored that David asked me to post his article.  Here it is:


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Finding the Right Cancer Support Network For You



Cancer is not only a threat to one’s body; it’s also a threat to one’s emotional integrity. Family and loved ones can be sympathetic and supportive, but how can they really know what you’re going through? Peer support can be a vital resource for cancer patients. A new form of cancer patient peer support group has emerged in recent years, facilitated by the Internet, that help cancer patient’s support one another. These are online cancer support networks.

Cancer support networks can be formal groups affiliated with hospital and cancer centers, administered by medical cancer specialists; they can be informal networks, put together and managed by survivors; or they can be anything in between.

While some of these groups are geared toward emotional support alone, others are oriented more practically and offer support for both the practical and financial aspects of cancer survival that can sometimes be overwhelming, things like how to find assistance with transportation, food preparation, laundry, cleaning and even childcare if you’re in a situation where you don’t have a support system to help you with those things. Cancer support groups can also point you towards financial resources in case your insurance is inadequate to meet your medical and transportation needs. Cancer support groups can help you find 24 hour cancer support lines and medical information; they can even help you formulate questions to ask your health care providers that will yield the most useful replies.

The results of several research studies suggest that finding the right cancer support group can help patients cope better with all aspects of their disease which can actually help them live longer. Online support groups may be particularly useful for people who live in rural areas or who are immobilized because of their disease. There are even cancer support groups for patients with rare cancers like mesothelioma that can help these patients feel less alone.

How do you find an online cancer support group that’s right for you? Begin with talking to your doctor, your nurses or your hospital social worker. The American Cancer Society (ACS) maintains a registry of literally thousands of cancer support groups nationwide as well as of other cancer advocacy organizations that maintain online support groups. The National Cancer Institute maintains a similar database. Affiliated with the ACS, the Cancer Survivors Network is a sophisticated Internet forum with bulletin boards and live chats. There’s a cancer support network that meets your needs waiting for you to find it.

By: David Haas

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To add a little to what David has said, another place where I have found support, as have many other cancer patients and families, is through the Association of Online Cancer Resources. ACOR adminsters over 150 mailing lists in support of people affected many different cancers.  As I have said here before, being on the ACOR list has been wonderful for me; without them I would not have known about HDIL-2, much less had the treatment.  And while it was not ultimately successful, the positive effects of it are likely still taking place in my body.  The people I have met on the list are wonderful; willing to share information and truly caring about other listmembers.

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