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The Cancer “Club”: A Primary Source

Is your treatment center and hospital  offering “cancer specific” support groups?

   The requirement for the Cancer “Club” is a diagnosis. There is an understanding that protects the privacy and integrity of the members. The “Club” allows the participants “cancer specific” discussions that may help in their decision making. Intimacy and sensitivity reflect some of the most vulnerable interactions within this support group. The conversations are universally human, including spouse and partner relationships, children, grandchildren, friends, medical team, treatment options, treatment side effects, facilities, and daily life functions including fun and travel.

   I am a cancer survivor who will never be cancer free. I have a good quality of life and have lived longer than I expected. Very good doctors are responsible for the medical success but vital to my quality longevity has been cancer specific support groups. Participants can range from 2 or 3 to 10 or more at any scheduled meeting that is in person or virtual.

   What is important after the cancer diagnosis that a medical team can’t be responsible for? What can bring a change in a cancer experience that is one of intelligence, grace and dignity? Cancer treatment is a daunting task for the patient and cancer team. The “secret language” of cancer is an attack on the mind, body and spirit. Is there a place where a cancer survivor is a person and not their diagnosis? The presence of hope can be redefined and sustained through a safe place where “cancer people” can share a non judgemental environment. What does facing cancer alone mean? Alone does not mean supportive doctors and empathetic friends and family. A cancer diagnosis is lonely when you are the only one in your world with it. Support Groups can improve quality of life and survival. Support Groups can reduce anxiety and isolation. They can strengthen survival coping ability. A cancer diagnosis is unique but from treatment to survivorship a cancer specific group can be a  primary source of information and support. This group compliments the medical team who has limited time and resources. 

   A cancer specific group is not one size fits all so it is important to realize you can participate at your comfort zone. I have been a member two groups over five years. The loss and suffering of members can be difficult but I always felt as a fellow survivor that I was part of something important and beyond my diagnosis.

   The Cancer business model for now and the future must do better for the survivor.