On the first Monday of every month, I help facilitate a support group for prostate cancer patients at my local cancer centre. This is a role that I have been doing,(subject to my own health) for approximately three years.
It is a day that I look forward to, and I thank the centre and members for welcoming me and making me feel a real part of the group. The members are all different personalities and experiences and at different stages of treatment, but have that very strong common bond of a cancer experience, which they are only too happy to share with each other.
The benefit of a support group is that everyone can tap into other peoples experiences,to help them with their own decisions. As I have said many times before, there is nothing as good as talking to someone who has experienced what you are about to. Some people come regularly every month, and others come, as and when they require information.
It occured to me today, that monthly, we have at least 2/3 new members, and today was no different. All newly diagnosed patients dealing with the issues that a cancer diagnosis brings.It is so heartening to see the support that new members gain from the more experienced ones. I can usually see, how after a few meetings, some of the initial fear and isolation is removed and peoples confidence begins to improve.
This then made me think about the people who do not feel able to attend a group meeting. Some people may not be physically able to come,or have transport problems, others may not feel confident enough to come along and share their problems. After all, it takes a special type of person to talk in front of others about issues they may have in the nether regions!
So, you have just been diagnosed with cancer, and then you are invited to share your issues with a group of people you have never met!
For all of the fantastic work that is done, up and down the country with support groups etc, there is still a massive number of people who are living with the burden of a cancer diagnosis and feel unable to share it. From my experience, this number is growing too.
It never fails to suprise me, that despite all the publicity and technology around these days, people still struggle to find the correct lines of support for themselves. It seems to me that the best way is proving to be patients telling other patients, ie recommending the services.
I have found from my own personal circumstances, that once fear is removed from your situation you can use your energies in a much more positive way. I faced my own demons frequently, in the early stages of my treatment, through chemo and transplant and various complications along the way. Now the emotion of fear doesn’t exist for me I can try and focus my limited energy on spreading the word.
Susan BowerMar 11, 2012 12:37 PM
I am frequently humbled when I see soldiers who have lost limbs in Afghanistan and are out doing all kinds of activities. And people like yourself who in spite of life threatening cancer do so much. We hear so many awful things on the news every day that it is easy to overlook the truly heroic actions that are also going on.
Thank you Susan. Your comments are much appreciated.We are all doing our best to improve things for others.I hope you are enjoying the blog, there is a lot more good stuff to come.Good luck with your training,and please keep me up to date with your progress!
You have come a long way since we first met.That is why I love what I do.TU!!