Friday, November 25, 2011

Guest Post by David Haas

Cancer Survivor Networks: Connecting with Others

When you have been diagnosed with cancer, it is easy to feel alone and isolated. You don't need to feel alone; there is hope. Other cancer survivors are ready and willing to help you. All you must do is seek out a support network either online or through a local group with regular onsite meetings.

Cancer survivor networks allow you the opportunity to share your innermost feelings about cancer and treatment with others who understand what you are going through. An article by the Mayo Clinic titled "Support groups: Make connections, get help," states that cancer support networks often have other benefits that you might not expected, such as providing a source of information about cancer and available treatments and an opportunity to learn tips and information from other cancer survivors who are further along in their treatment.

Online meetings have several advantages. For example, if you are undergoing treatment and you aren't feeling well enough to go out, you can attend meetings or participate in forums online. Many of the online meetings are conducted via a chat room and you do not need sophisticated technology to participate. The forums allow you to post questions and read the answers posted by other cancer patients. Online support groups have the additional benefit of allowing you to find a group of cancer survivors who suffer from the same illness that you have, for example, mesothelioma or colon cancer. In addition, many of these forums even have a doctor or nurse available to answer basic questions about treatment or recovery.

If you aren't technologically savvy or if you prefer to connect with people on a more personal level, you can participate in face-to-face meetings. During these meetings you can share experiences with real cancer survivors in your community. Many survivors find that the emotional support and feeling of belonging that they experience in a face-to-face support group makes recovery more tolerable.

If you are interested in finding a cancer survivor network, ask your doctor or nurse for a list of groups near you. Your local telephone book or newspaper might provide additional information as well. If you prefer an online group, search for a group or visit the website of the national foundation for cancer or for your particular type of cancer. You have nothing to lose by reaching out to others, but you have everything to gain. 

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