People have been encouraging me to go to a cancer support group. What’s the point?

Research shows that involvement in support groups can help improve a cancer patient’s quality of life as well as their perception of pain and mood.

The structured environment of a support group allows for meaningful discussion that is therapeutic for cancer patients. While undergoing cancer treatment, it is important to deal with both the emotional and physical effects of treatment. A support group can be a safe, confidential place to discuss these effects and to connect with someone else who has dealt with similar issues that follow a cancer diagnosis.

Support groups also facilitate the sharing of practical information, such as the best ways to alleviate treatment side effects or helpful ways to communicate with your doctor. The group setting allows you to hear a variety of viewpoints and experiences on topics like returning to work or discussing your diagnosis with family, friends or coworkers.

Newly diagnosed cancer patients want to know what to expect during and after treatment. Groups allow you the opportunity to network with people who have been through similar treatments — people who can answer your questions and perhaps calm some of your fears or understand your anger.

Family members and friends can also benefit from support groups. Many support groups welcome family and friends to the discussion while some support groups are specific to caregivers, friends or family members.

Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge has many different support groups including a new one that meets every Thursday at noon. It is open to anyone in the community dealing with cancer.

For more information, contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org, or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

Taking Time: Support for Cancer Survivors, cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime

Support Groups – Ask CancerCare, cancercare.org/reading_room/ask/archive/supportgroup-archive.php

Support Groups – ASCO’s Cancer.net

This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.