Stress Reduction Through Support Groups

An individual diagnosed with cancer today has slightly better than a 50% chance of being cured. Your goal must be to swing that pendulum as far toward 100% as possible. This must be your aim regardless of the statistics for your particular type of cancer.

If yours is readily curable, then less effort is necessary to insure the maximum chance of a positive outcome. If the statistics are terrible on your type of cancer, remember some beat it and you might as well be one of those who do. Here it becomes even more important in concentrating your efforts on recovery.

In numerous articles and on our website at we emphasize that the most important single action a cancer patient can do to insure successful treatment is to make a commitment to themselves that they will do everything in their power to fight their disease! That is not only the biggest but also the hardest single thing a patient will have to do in their entire battle. Because then everything becomes easy. If it could possibly help, you do it without even thinking. If it could hurt, you don’t.

The next most important factor might be to minimize stress. Trials have shown that stress increases the growth rate of cancer. Numerous factors cause stress and these are exaggerated in cancer patients. The mere diagnosis of cancer causes stress. Searching for proper treatments is stressful. Physical examinations, treatments, side effects and the fear of the unknown certainly exacerbate stress. Minimizing stress is vital for any cancer patient.

Probably one of the most effective ways of doing this is joining a support group. But be careful when doing this. Support groups come in many sizes and shapes, and to get into one that is not best for your problem can do as much harm in adding stress as doing nothing at all. Many programs are called support groups and are really educational programs. True support groups are regular, preferably weekly, gatherings of individuals with a common problem and are supervised by a qualified therapist who has been trained for this work.

Support groups may be for a specific type of cancer, for cancer patients in general, for children with cancer, for children or spouses of cancer patients, or for individuals undergoing a specific treatment such as bone marrow transplant. For a man with prostate cancer to listen to a lecture on preventing breast cancer is not attending a support group. For him to attend a prostate cancer support group or a general cancer support group at least once a week is valuable.

Clinical trials have proven that women with breast cancer who regularly attend a support group dramatically increase their life expectancy. That is what all of us with cancer want. But we must be certain it is a regular program designed exclusively for individuals with our problem and properly supervised. It is your life and it is worth fighting for.