Guest post by David Haas
Receiving a cancer diagnosis from a doctor can be very scary, especially if you don't personally know anyone who has gone through treatment for cancer. Many hospitals with cancer centers have their own network of support groups for cancer patients and their families. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse about support groups if they don't volunteer this information. If you cannot find a local group whose meetings fit into your schedule it is a good idea to find an online cancer support group so that you can ask questions and read posts written by people who have gone through the same types of treatments that you will be experiencing.
Local support groups are great for people with cancer and their families because they usually meet several times each month and allow for the opportunity to become closely connected to those going through the same struggle. They may also be helpful because you can ask specific questions about a local doctor from those who have dealt with the doctor or swap advice about the little things that keep you going. Many long-term friendships have been established by people who have gone through the same experience side by side.
Some people would rather not attend physical meetings and are more comfortable sharing their feelings behind a computer screen. Writing an anonymous blog is a good way to record your feelings and thoughts throughout your cancer treatment honestly, without feeling like you're being judged. One benefit of online cancer support groups is that you can often find a group that consists only of people who have been diagnosed with a certain type of cancer. Specific groups range from common cancers like breast cancer all the way to aggressive cancers such as mesothelioma. Targeted information about different tests, symptoms, and treatment options for cancer patients with a specific type of cancer is often more helpful than a group that was created to support people who have received any type of cancer diagnosis.
The National Cancer Institute recognizes that people who receive a cancer diagnosis may respond in a variety of ways and their feelings are likely to change by the hour or even by the minute. Stress, depression, fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, denial, guilt, and loneliness are emotions that are commonly experienced by patients shortly after diagnosis. Leaning on a group of people who have been through similar circumstances is important because they will help you understand that your feelings are normal and you can ask them questions that you don't feel comfortable asking your doctor.