Assembling Your Support Network
One of your first steps after your diagnosis should be to establish
a network of people who can help you. This network will include your
loved ones, your peer support groups, and of course a solid team of
Your loved ones will provide the emotional support and closeness
you need, and help you sort out facts and fears. Try to select one
person—your husband, partner, or best friend—who
will accompany you when you meet with your doctors or go to your treatments.
This companion can help you ask questions, remember information, or
write down instructions.
He or she can become the center of your support network, acting
as your sounding board, helping you to evaluate information and to
make decisions, coordinating support from friends and family, and
at times shielding you from excessive attention.
One of the most beneficial things you can do is join a support group.
Support groups are groups of people who meet regularly, under the
guidance of a trained facilitator, to discuss the participants' concerns.
Programs are organized in a variety of ways. Some groups meet only
a few times; others are long-term, enabling members to work through
problems. Some are composed of people with the same disease site (for
example, breast or colon cancer patients), others by patient age or
background. Some are just for patients; others include family or other
Support groups give you a chance to openly discuss your thoughts
with others who are going through the same experience. Many hospitals
consider some form of group counseling to be part of the standard
treatment—as necessary as an exercise class, for example.
Visit the support group a couple of times before joining, so you
can be sure that the peer mix meets your needs and expectations.
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