Jeremy Ohara

Jeremy Ohara

What are Cancer Support Groups, and How Do They Help?

  Apr 8, 2024
Reviewed by Ravinder Kaur

Cancer Support

Key Takeaways

  • Cancer isn’t just a physical battle; it affects the mind, too. The fear, the uncertainty, the changes—it can feel overwhelming. Cancer support groups help a lot in such cases.
  • These assist people in discovering that they’re not walking this path alone and realizing there’s a community out there ready to help and listen. You can draw strength from others’ experiences and share your own. 
  • These provide informational aid, reduce feelings of loneliness, and provide emotional management.
  • There are various available groups like peer-led, professional-led, and informational groups which have their own style and aim.

You might have heard of support groups, but what does the term mean? Simply put, they’re gatherings where people with similar experiences come together to talk, listen, and share. Think of them as safe spaces where no one judges you and everyone understands. 

For those with cancer, these become even more pivotal. Cancer isn’t just a physical battle; it affects the mind, too. The fear, the uncertainty, the changes—it can feel overwhelming. Sometimes, family and friends, despite their best intentions, just can’t relate. The graph below shows how friends, spouses, children, and various other factors influence a patient specifically with breast cancer.

Support system in coping with breast cancer

But in a cancer support group, everyone understands your struggles because they’re living through them, too. Keep reading to learn how such a simple concept can help so many.

Cancer is a word that brings a wave of emotions all at once. Patients often find themselves in a whirlwind of doctor visits, treatments, and life adjustments. The physical pain, though challenging, is just one part. The emotional side is a whole other battle people don’t often discuss.

Being diagnosed can make you feel alone, so it’s easy to think that no one truly understands what’s happening inside. Questions like, “Why me?” or “What did I do wrong?” might pop up in your mind. 

However, the beauty of humanity is our innate need to connect, especially during hardships. assisting groups to tap into this need. They create an environment where everyone’s journey matters and no one judges you for crying or for being angry. 

But the best part is discovering you’re not walking this path alone and realizing there’s a community out there ready to help and listen. You can draw strength from others’ experiences and share your own. 

Knowing there’s support at platforms like is a beacon of hope. It’s more than just a website; it’s a promise that you don’t have to navigate cancer alone. In addition, resources like Pathway offer comprehensive guides and tools for understanding cancer treatments and managing your health journey. This kind of support can be invaluable in making informed decisions about your care.

Do You Know: There are online cancer support groups that are more bent towards providing the individuals with informational support like available treatments, managing side effects, and much more. 

Why Cancer Support Groups Matter 

First off, cancer isn’t just a physical fight. There’s a whole emotional side to it. You need both kinds of help: for your body and your mind. Support groups offer that imperative balance.

  • Informational Aid: You get a two-for-one deal in these. Not only do you get to share how you feel, but you also learn. If it’s about a new treatment or a way to manage pain, you’ll find it helpful.
  • Reducing Feelings of Loneliness: Let’s face it, cancer can be isolating. But here, in this space, you’re surrounded by people who understand.
  • Emotional Management: Hearing others share their stories can be uplifting. It reminds you that there’s hope, and when things get tough, you have the tools to cope.

Types of Cancer Support Groups 

Now that we know how vital these groups are, let’s dive into the available types. Each has its own style, but they all aim to help.

Peer-led Groups:

  • These are pretty straightforward. There are no professionals here, just members leading the way.
  • It’s all about shared experiences. You talk, listen, and connect.
  • There’s something special about taking advice from someone who’s been in your shoes.

Professional-led Groups:

  • These have a bit more structure. A counselor or social worker guides the group.
  • It’s not just about talking. It’s also about learning, coping strategies, and more.
  • Having a trained leader can bring a wealth of knowledge to the table.

Informational Groups:

  • Think of these as mini-classes because you’re there to learn.
  • They focus on the facts. What’s the latest in cancer research? Are any new treatments on the horizon?
  • Often, there are guest speakers, such as a doctor or a nurse.

In essence, it’s all about finding what works best for you. Some might prefer the casual vibe of peer-led groups, while others might lean towards the structure of professional-led ones.  Information is the way to go if you’re hungry for knowledge. 

Choosing the Right Group for You 

First, choosing the right cancer support group means you should consider what you want from them. Do you want emotional aid? Information? Maybe both? 

Next, think about your personal preferences. Some people love face-to-face interaction in-person because they like seeing expressions, hearing voices, and feeling that close connection. 

On the other hand, some folks are all about online groups since they enjoy the flexibility. Plus, they can join from the comfort of their homes. Decide which one appeals more to you.

Where to Find Support Groups 

If you’re into the in-person thing, start with hospitals; many have their support groups. Community centers are another great option since they often host meetings and can be closer to home.

But if online is your jam, the options are vast. Social media sites often have many groups dedicated to cancer support. Then, there are forums and chat rooms. If you want something more real-time, try video conferencing platforms.

Lastly, how do you decide? Think about what’s more convenient for you. Maybe you like the idea of heading out and meeting people or, perhaps, you’d rather be in your favorite chair at home. Trust your feelings and go with what feels suitable for you.

Making the Most Out of Support Groups 

Finding a support group is a big step, but just being there isn’t enough. To truly benefit, you need to be active. Here’s how to make the most of it:

  • Actively Participate: It’s more than just showing up; it’s a two-way street. Share your feelings, ask questions, and offer advice when you can. 
  • Respect Others: Everyone is at a different place in their journey. Some days might be good, others wrong, so listen to their stories and feelings without any judgment.
  • Stay Open: You might hear new ideas or methods of coping, so give them a chance. Being open can lead to growth.

Remember, a support group is like a team. All of them are working towards the same goal, which is understanding and healing. When everyone does their part, the whole group benefits. Give a little, and you’ll get a lot back. 


Cancer is a tough road but with a support group, it gets a bit easier. It’s like having a team by your side. They understand, assist, and guide. So, if you or someone you know is facing cancer, consider joining a group because it might just be the help you never knew you needed.