Saturday, February 5, 2011

Support Groups

If you have had a biopsy or surgery for breast cancer, or have begun to radiation or chemotherapy, you will already have experienced quite a range of emotions and stresses. It is common to feel betrayed by your body, or angry with your situation, depressed, confused and even tears. You can feel very alone in your experience, or you may have relatives, friends or colleagues who have traveled this way before you, and that they are always ready to listen when you need to air your feelings. On the other hand, you may be more of a thinker who a person emotionally expressive and prefer to process your private experience, or perhaps through writing.

If you are at this point, you could watch the treatment of cancer as a part-time job, taking up a lot of time, resources and energy that would rather spend in other ways. Get a friend with good intentions that suggests that you join a support group of breast cancer, and you can get pictures of a roomful of weepy women wearing pink ribbons and comparing the effects of treatment. Or, you may be lucky enough to be in a group of high quality support with a clear structure, precise objectives and professional therapists. In both cases, as you might know if a support group would you, if you have committed time and energy to it.

researchers of Ohio State University studied a group of women who had just had surgery for breast cancer, collect responses on their feelings of emotional distress, their support system, their diet and exercise and smoking habits. Women were also tested for immune system works. They were divided into two groups, one of whom attended regular small group meetings on topics related to their health and treatments, and the other group did not participate in meetings. These women are similar in many ways: diagnosis, age, race, marital status and menopause. After four months, all women were interviewed on the same questions that they had responded to the beginning of the study.

women who participated in small groups have shown improvement by reporting the lowest levels of stress and anxiety, improve feelings of support and a reduction of smoking. Their blood has been tested for T cells, a part of the immune system that helps the body to organise its resources to combat the disease, and their resistance to disease was higher. Women of the second group, who did not participate in small groups, have not shown this kind of improvement.

This study suggests that will benefit to attend a support group, because it can strengthen the body, mind and emotions while in treatment. I was able to participate in a professionally run support group that met for six weeks, and I was going through chemotherapy. It was offered by the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Austin, Texas. My surgeon has suggested to participate, who knew of groups in my area that were well organized and available for free. While attending, I learned about emotions, side effects, sleep disorders, Lymphedema and alternative therapies. I found that about half of the women in my group have been dealing with, or just had triumphed over, the same things that were compared with me. We met an hour before each support group for dinner and just exchanged daily normal conversation, cracking jokes and keep pace with others? s lives. Whatever we shared to support group meetings held in trust, and we have kept this confidence. When I had to go for a blood transfusion, the members of the Group sent me cards and even a stuffed bear, to cheer me up. After six weeks of official meetings, we still had the parties together, keep up the good times and hard times.

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1 comment:

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