As cancer patients, you can relate to each other and provide support in a special way, and cancer’s inherent hardships can lead to friendships among fellow patients. When it comes to sharing experiences, helping settle emotions and sharing health information, you just get each other. These bonds provide a range of benefits during your treatment and bolster your healing process.
Although your dynamics may differ, all cancer patients strive for that one definitive objective: survival. You can lean on each other while you fight cancer. According to the New York Times, hearing the stories of others could help you deal with your worries or denial about your diagnosis. It may give you more faith in your medical treatment to hear about what other people experienced. Also, as the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) describes, support groups give you an arena to openly express and process emotions, while also getting practical information about your disease and treatment that your family and friends just don’t have.
You may already know about support groups, but there are other options available if you’re looking for more personal stories from other patients. Here are a few ideas:
Explore Pet Therapy
Some cancer centers contract professional animal handlers with service-trained dogs and exotic birds to provide animal-assisted therapy. You can sit with other fellow animal-loving cancer patients and enjoy the therapeutic values of interacting with animals, including your own pets. If your cancer center doesn’t offer this service, you can still organize patient-pet meetups with a cancer patient friend to spend some time comparing pet stories. If you’re both up for it, walk your dogs together or plan a trip to the dog park.
Arts in Medicine
Whether bedside, in a dedicated studio or informally at the cancer center, spreading some paint on a canvas with other patients is fulfilling for all involved. Participating in the creative arts can help you deal with depression and anxiety during treatment, according to the American Cancer Society. You could also suggest to your support group to go to a paint night class at a local community center. You can even just get some supplies at an art store and host some fellow patients at your home.
Music has a magical way of bringing people together. When bonding with fellow cancer patients, find ways to let music into your relationship. This could mean giving someone a playlist or mixtape to help calm his or her nerves before surgery. Or have a specific song you play when carpooling together or waiting for group therapy to start. Talk about live performances you’ve experienced or just your favorite songs. Discussing something totally different from cancer, but that you still share, can help you bond even further.
Kindred spirits come in many forms. Naturally, bone-cancer amputees may talk about their prosthesis and physical capabilities. Breast cancer patients mightdiscuss hormone therapy or treatment decisions. You know what bonds you together, you just need to find and talk to each other. Meet in the lobby, partake in coffee in the cafeteria, host a cancer-patient book club and chat in the respective cancer clinics. Look into online support groups or Facebook groups related to your specific struggle. Even if you never meet in person, you can swap stories and know you aren’t alone.
You experience similar issues and largely have the same thoughts and concerns. No matter the venue, the benefits of sharing among cancer patients are vast. You’ll marvel at the dividends fellow cancer patients can provide you.
The support you need, both from your doctors and fellow patients, is out there. Look into the support services at your hospital today.Learn More