To many, living with cancer can feel despairing, isolating, and challenging – among other experiences only cancer patients themselves know and live through. Support groups are available to patients, loved ones, caregivers, and cancer survivors to find resources needed to cope with their emotions and experiences.
How Lung Cancer Support Groups Can Help
Support groups are available to those who need to find help or comfort in creating social connections, learning more about their lung cancer diagnosis, or coping with feelings of hopelessness. Groups can meet online, in-person, or by telephone, and may restore hope through connecting with other people living through a similar experience.
Cancer support groups provide many benefits, including:
- Joining a community that can relate to you and your situation
- Providing a safe space to share fears and frustrations you may not feel comfortable sharing with others
- Hearing stories of personal success or challenges that help you feel less alone
- Meeting other people who have already been through a lung cancer diagnosis and learning from their experiences
- Reducing feelings of stress, depression, anxiety, and helplessness
- Learning about new treatments or clinical trials and what you can expect if you’re going through similar treatments
Support groups may have themes, where new, educational opportunities become available. They’re usually open to thoughts or concerns regarding the topic. Support groups topics might include:
- Complementary and alternative treatments
- Caregiver, hospice, and home care
- Diet and exercise tips
- Breathing techniques
- Communicating with your doctor
- Treatment options for lung cancer
- How to prevent cancer from spreading
- Yoga and meditation techniques
Types of Support Groups
There are several organizations and nonprofits that offer different types of meetings to support people with lung cancer. Additional resources are also available from patients’ cancer care teams. Typically, these meetings can take place in different spaces, including online, in-person, and over the phone.
Group meetings usually adhere to one of the following formats:
- Peer-led or self-help groups run by members
- Professional-led groups, in which a trained counselor, social worker, or psychologist may lead the conversation
- Informational support groups led by a professional facilitator, where they provide cancer-related information and education. These groups often provide expert advice through speakers or doctors.
Groups may be intended for specific audiences, including:
- Anyone with cancer
- Those with a specific type of cancer, such as lung cancer
- People of a certain age group
- People who have a specific stage of cancer
As a lung cancer patient, you can also consider alternative forms of support, including:
- Individual counseling
- Talking with friends or loved ones
- Asking your health care team specific questions
- Connecting with friends or family through participating in activities
Finding a Support Group
In general, there are several ways to find the right support group that meets your individual needs. Many support groups are led by medical professionals at local hospitals or clinics. Furthermore, most hospitals have social workers whose job it may be to assist you. In addition to hospital resources, researching online can help you find remote and in-person groups and other mental health information.
Online Lung Cancer Support Groups
While online groups don’t provide face-to-face interaction like local ones, they allow you to make connections without leaving your home. Treatment symptoms may isolate you in your home, but the online support is available 24/7. Today, online support groups for lung cancer patients include:
- American Lung Association
- Cancer Care
- Inspire – American Lung Association Lung Cancer Survivors Community
- LUNGevity Support Community
- The Cancer Survivors Network
Additionally, cancer patients may find support groups via social media. Nowadays, platforms like Facebook offer private or public groups focused on your specific disease or location. Social platforms allow you to share inspirational stories or quotes, vent your feelings and experiences, and learn about new treatment options.
In-Person Lung Cancer Support Groups
Normally, face-to-face lung cancer groups enable you to connect with local members going through a similar experience. While they require you to leave your home, attending a face-to-face support group can eliminate some feelings of isolation. You can search for local support groups through several online forums, including:
- American Cancer Society Support Group Search
- American Lung Association
- National Lung Cancer Support Group Network
Lung Cancer Support Groups by Phone
Telephone support groups are available to patients who want to speak with others to share ideas, coping strategies, and stories. While each telephone support group is different, they usually involve a small group of members who communicate through a conference call. Telephone support group sources include:
Caregiver Support Groups
Caregivers are not excluded from some of the struggles that come with a cancer prognosis. When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you may find yourself spending more of your time and energy devoted to your loved one, while compromising your social life, work, or hobbies.
Caregiver support groups are available to people who may need advice on how to support their loved ones who are dealing with lung cancer. They can also allow you to communicate your own fears, frustrations, or sadness to others who are going through a similar experience. Resources available to caregivers include:
By participating in a supportive community, or even reaching out to one person who understands your experiences with cancer, you never have to be alone in your fight.