Support Groups: Help With Navigating the Cancer Experience

by Gabriela Lopez, MSW, LCSW | Feb 07, 2017
Support Groups at the Cancer Center
Support Groups are an important part of the care patients receive at the Cancer Center, providing many benefits to patients that can contribute to an improved quality of life. Some of the positive effects experienced by cancer patients include a reduction in feelings of isolation, a sense of community, a reduction in depression and anxiety, and a new sense of purpose.

Often times, people diagnosed with cancer are apprehensive about joining a support group. “I delayed joining the Gynecological Cancer Support Group for about a year and a half after my diagnosis because I thought I would get more depressed and more fearful listening to others. That was a BIG mistake,” shared Penny Ridgeway, a patient of the Cancer Center.

“If I had joined my support group sooner, I would have received valuable, useful information about my treatment earlier, which would have made me more comfortable. My current group has supported me to make decisions that might have increased my life span,” said Penny.

The National Cancer Institute cites research showing support groups improve quality of life and increased survival. Cancer Center support groups are led by professional Oncology SocialWorkers who provide a safe and supportive place where participants have the opportunity to connect with others, obtain resources, information and emotional support. It is through this shared experience that members realize they are not alone, learn healthy coping strategies and find tools to help manage the effects of cancer.
Mary Solis with Patients
“The exchange of information in these groups is substantive,” said Penny. “The wealth of experience, vast. The group gives participants gifts of knowledge at every level throughout this journey and presents us with the opportunity to forge life-long, supportive friendships.”

Like many patients of the Cancer Center, Penny has reaped the benefits of sharing her story and experience in the group settings. “I am extremely grateful to the participants and for the skillful and caring social workers who guide us.”

The Cancer Center has ten Oncology Support Groups. Some are specific to diagnosis, others focus on family, caregivers, children of parents with cancer, young adults, Spanish speakers and more.

Please call Gabriela Lopez at (805) 682-7300 x 178 for more information.