Cancer may cause you to feel isolated and disconnected from even your closest loved ones. Many people with cancer - as well as their caregivers - find it helpful to talk with other people who have similar experiences. We can help you connect with other people with cancer as well as volunteer cancer survivors who can offer special insights to those who are beginning the cancer journey.
Support and Education Groups
Support groups are similar to any sort of social group. If you have ever joined a club of any kind, like a bridge club or a gardening club or even gotten together with some folks to play golf or go bowling, you know what a support group is. It is simply a group of people who get together because they want to talk to other people who are interested in what they are interested in.
In some ways, it is unfortunate that we call these groups "support" groups, because this has led many people to think that these groups are sad or depressing and that you have to talk about things you don't want to talk about.
Joining a support group is a way to meet people who are in the same boat you are in. It is a way to share and exchange information. Why reinvent the wheel? Many people have walked down the road you are now starting. Why not learn what you can from them? You will eventually have a chance to pass on what you've learned to the people who will start down this road after you.
There are different kinds of support groups available, too. Some meet for a fixed number of sessions, like some of the breast cancer groups. Other groups, like Esophagectomy Support, Young Adults with Cancer, the Brain Tumor and Bladder Cancer Support [pdf] groups are ongoing -- you are a member as long as you want to be.
As gardeners like to talk about particular roses or perennials they have grown, and golfers like to talk about particular golf courses or their handicaps, cancer patients and their families like to talk to other people who are interested in cancer and cancer treatment.
And that is what a support group is-a chance to talk to other people who are interested in what you are interested in.
You can download the flyer containing information about all the support groups at the U-M Cancer Center.
Pastoral and spiritual ministries for all denominations are available through U-M Hospital's Patient and Family Services. Two chapels are open 24 hours a day. Learn more at Counseling & Spiritual Services.
Peer counselors are cancer survivors and family members who have experienced cancer and its treatment firsthand. They believe a cancer survivor has a unique understanding of the cancer experience, and have volunteered to provide their special insights to those just beginning the cancer journey. Peer counselors provide insight and feedback on countless topics, including:
- Insight on making treatment decisions and the impact these choices made on the peer counselor's life
- Suggestions to make cancer treatment easier
- Resources for support and coping
- Ideas for dealing with treatment side effects such as hair loss and body image