Strength in Numbers: Support Groups

Support group meetings are designed to allow the person with cancer, family, and friends to share concerns, information and support. The meetings aim to meet the needs of people dealing with specific issues such as diagnosis, individual patient needs, and the day-to-day fight for recovery. Licensed psychotherapists facilitate the meetings. A variety of support groups are offered:

    • Participant Support Groups (Support Groups for the person with cancer)

      “It is such a comfort to be with others who truly understand my experience in a way that my loving family and friends cannot. I learn so much from my fellow group members, of both a practical and profound nature. I give and receive support.”
      — Kathy MacDonald, member of a Participant Group

      Participant groups are the mainstay of our support programs at the Cancer Support Community. At these meetings, you can build an “extended family” and explore new ways of coping with the physical and emotional aspects of cancer. Participant groups offer a safe place for people with cancer to share feelings, concerns, information and support. Through these sessions, our participants form strong bonds with other individuals fighting cancer. The groups are for the participant who wants to make a commitment to the same group. One of our licensed psychotherapists, who have extensive training and experience working with people with cancer, facilitates each group. There are generally 8 to 12 members in a group. Group meetings are 90-minutes long and are offered at a variety of days and times to accommodate our participants’ differing schedules. Attendance at an Orientation Meeting and a short interview are needed prior to joining a group. For dates and locations, please click here.

    • Family & Friends Support Groups (for the loved one of someone with cancer)

Having a loved one with cancer has its unique challenges. Often loved ones have as much (or more) stress and need for support services as the person with cancer does. Facilitated by a licensed psychotherapist who has extensive training and experience working with people with cancer, family groups offer a safe place to talk about the roller coaster of emotions (fear, anxiety, powerlessness, anger, sadness, etc.) and issues related to a loved one with cancer. Group participants learn practical information and skills that help make them a more effective support person while maintaining their own health. One family group is held simultaneously with our participant group, so that both the person with cancer and their support person can benefit from our services at the same time. We find that it works well to have separate groups for the person with cancer and the significant other/support person so they may speak honestly and openly about the issues and concerns that are unique to their role.Family groups are for the person who wants to make a weekly commitment to the same group. Attendance at an Orientation Meeting and a short interview are required before joining a Family group. For dates and locations, please click here.

    • Family and Friends Drop-in Groups

These groups are similar to the Family Groups described above, except they do not require an initial interview, attendance at an Orientation Meeting, or a commitment to come every week. Groups are facilitated by a licensed psychotherapist who has extensive training and experience working with people with cancer. For dates and locations please click here.

    • People with Cancer and Family Drop-in Groups

These weekly groups are for both the person with cancer and those supporting a loved one with cancer. A licensed psychotherapist who has extensive training and experience working with people with cancer facilitates the group. See the descriptions of Participant and Family groups above. For dates and locations please click here.

Cancer type-Specific Networking Groups (for both people with cancer and family)

These groups give people with cancer an opportunity to connect with others who have the same type of cancer or are facing similar issues. Here, facilitated by licensed psychotherapists who have extensive training and experience working with people who have cancer, fellow participants exchange information and offer hope, support, and encouragement.

  • Brain Tumor Group

For people who have been diagnosed with a brain tumor, as well as for spouses/significant others. Confronting your brain tumor diagnosis can be a frightening and difficult experience. Yet, reaching out to others who are experiencing or have experienced a similar diagnosis can be extremely supportive, as well as crucial to your treatment and recovery. A licensed psychotherapist who has extensive training and experience working with people with cancer facilitates the group, which is affiliated with the National Brain Tumor Foundation, www.braintumor.org.The following are some frequently asked questions about brain treatment support groups:

What are the functions of a support group?

  • To provide practical information and resources for patients and their families about a brain tumor diagnosis and the various treatment methods.
  • To provide the opportunity to share experiences, address personal issues, and gain emotional support in a safe, relaxed atmosphere.
  • To help facilitate a smooth transition for patients and families as they move from acute treatment through follow-up and/or outpatient treatment.

What are the advantages of attending?

  • Reducing the anxiety often associated with a brain tumor diagnosis due to lack of control, fear of the unknown, altered familial roles, financial strain, etc.
  • Gaining validation and reassurance from other survivors, family members, and health professionals.
  • Gaining a better understanding of treatment methods, procedures, and side effects.
  • Keeping current on new treatments, research studies, conferences and resources.
  • Enhancing and strengthening coping skills.
  • Developing a unique social network that helps alleviate fear.

How are meetings organized?
Participants include patients, family members and friends. Typically meetings begin with brief introductions and updates followed by participants talking informally about individual issues or experiences, asking questions, and sharing resources. Our unique format allows the entire group to meet during the first hour and then we separate into two groups for the second hour: a brain tumor patients’ group and a caregivers’ group. Guest speakers may also be invited to give presentations or answer questions on relevant topics such as new treatment methods, research, coping skills, insurance, and numerous others. For dates and locations, please click here.

  • Gynecological Cancer Group

For women who have or who have had any gynecological cancer. By joining this group you will have an opportunity to share your feelings, issues and concerns in a very personal and intimate way. There is also an opportunity to exchange information with women who are knowledgeable about gynecological cancer. Occasionally there is a guest speaker. A licensed psychotherapist who has extensive training and experience working with people with cancer facilitates the group. For dates and locations, please click here.

  • Breast Cancer Groups (Early Stage Group & Advanced Stage Group)

These groups explore specific issues and concerns for those who have or previously had breast cancer. Also, it provides an opportunity to talk with women who have had various treatments and can be especially helpful in making treatment choices. Occasionally, an expert on breast cancer gives a presentation on some aspect of breast cancer, i.e. reconstruction, what’s new in breast cancer treatment, dealing with treatment side effects, etc. A licensed psychotherapist who has extensive training and experience working with people with cancer facilitates the group. Registration is not required. For dates and locations, please click here.

  • Prostate Cancer Group

For men with prostate cancer; helps raise issues and concerns about sexual functioning, job conflicts, family role changes, self-image and other quality-of-life issues. Information on treatment options, new treatments, research studies, conferences and resources is shared. Occasionally, guest speakers give presentations. Spouses/significant others are welcome. A licensed psychotherapist who has extensive training and experience working with people with cancer facilitates the group. Registration is not required. For dates and locations, please click here.

  • Bereavement Group

This group is for those who have experienced the loss of someone from cancer. It is open to anyone who attended a Cancer Support Community group or whose loved one was a participant. A licensed psychotherapist who has extensive training and experience working with people with cancer facilitates the group. Registration is not required. For dates and locations, please click here.