Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guest Blog Post - Emotional Support

I’m pleased to share the following guest blog post by David Haas, who contacted me recently to ask about contributing to this blog.  I fully agree with David’s remarks about the need for emotional support for those who have or who have had cancer, and I will add that I personally have also experienced great benefit from grief support groups and grief counseling services since my dad went on ahead.

Besides support groups and individual counseling sessions, emotional support for individuals with cancer and their families can come from social networking – in cancer-specific formats like The Cancer Buddies Network ( and general formats like Facebook – as well as from friends and family members.  Obviously, it can be helpful to get the appropriate emotional support during treatment (Sadly, my dad’s team certainly fell short in this area, and he suffered because of it.), and it can be equally important to get it after the treatment is over or, as in my case, when dealing with grief after a death of a loved one.  Certainly any type of cancer can bring about the need for support, and, like David and many others, I encourage anyone who is dealing with Cancer to seek out those services as needed. 

And now I will hand off the Talking Stick to our guest, David Haas:

The Benefits Of Emotional Support Networks For Cancer Survivors

The need for emotional support does not end when the cancer treatment ends. Cancer survivors need as much support after cancer as they did during treatment. Emotional support systems can help people manage their challenges during any stage of cancer. And they are vital for improving quality of life.

What Is Emotional Support And Where Does It Come From?

Emotional support systems are more than just a concept. They are the people, organizations, and programs that help individuals through cancer. Cancer survivors need many types of support: emotional, social, spiritual, medical, financial, and legal. Emotional support systems are especially beneficial because they provide encouragement, comfort, and assistance during a difficult time.

Many people and groups make up an emotional support system. Family members, friends, health professionals like the doctor or the oncologist, neighbors, colleagues, faith leaders, and other cancer survivors -- all of these people can answer a cancer survivor’s need for support. But survivor networks may be the most valuable support of all. Here are some online support systems that have proved to be very beneficial:

Cancer Survivor Networks

Cancer survivor networks consist of people who have “been there” and “done that.” They understand cancer better than a doctor or loved one, because they have fought the battle and survived.

Talking or writing about cancer -- and all the feelings, frustrations, and fears it stirs up -- is an important part of the healing process, even after treatment. Cancer survivors often heal best with the help of emotional support systems like survivor groups.

Cancer survivors can find support in-person and online. Local support groups often meet in hospitals, churches, and homes. Group members share stories, resources, advice, and encouragement with other cancer survivors.

Online communities allow cancer survivors to interact over the Internet, and anonymity is optional. In fact, online groups are the best option for some people, who find support in blog posts, discussion forums, chat rooms, instant messages, and email communication.

The Benefits Of Support Networks

A study by the California Breast Cancer Research Program examined the effectiveness of online support groups for breast cancer survivors, with encouraging results. Women who participated in electronic support groups were better able to cope with anxiety, depression, and pain. They were also more optimistic and expressed a zeal for life.

While the study looked specifically at breast cancer survivors, support groups are likely to have similar effects whether a person has prostate cancer, mesothelioma, or other malignancy. And support is helpful whether it comes in the form of a local group or online community.

Each person’s cancer journey is unique, and each survivorship is different. The emotional support of doctors, family members, friends, and co-workers is essential. But encouragement from the people, who have battled cancer and won, is often the best emotional support of all.

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