How Do I Choose the Best Prostate Cancer Support Group?

C. Webb

A diagnosis of prostate cancer can produce fear and anxiety as the patient learns about and makes treatment option choices. A prostate cancer support group provides a place in which to discuss emotions and treatment side effects, and to offer suggestions to members of the group. Getting into the right prostate cancer support group gives the patient a sense of belonging. In addition, the patient can make friends from the group, who understand what he is going through. Choosing the right group to join is key to receiving optimum benefit from participating.

Prostate cancer refers to a cancerous growth that begins in the prostate gland.
Prostate cancer refers to a cancerous growth that begins in the prostate gland.

In looking for a prostate cancer support group, the patient must consider several factors. Travel distance to the group, transportation availability, and which days the group meets are all important. If meetings take place on days when the patient's cancer treatments have the most negative impact on how he feels, he risks missing the meetings. A meeting too far away or that is not easily accessible also puts attendance at risk. Choosing a group that is convenient makes regular attendance more likely.

Another important consideration in choosing the best prostate cancer support group is the type of group desired. Some support groups allow friends and family members to attend. Others restrict attendance to only patients. The patient must decide whether he wants to attend alone or with loved ones and choose a group that accommodates that need.

Each prostate cancer support group is individually structured. Some offer a place to discuss the emotional ramifications of having prostate cancer. Others primarily offer suggestions for education and research opportunities. The best prostate cancer support group will depend on what the patient hopes to gain from joining a group.

The individual's daily schedule also comes into play in choosing the best prostate cancer support group. If he works, he will need a group that does not meet during work hours. A person who feels best in the morning will search out a group that meets before noon. Conversely, a patient who feels best in the evenings will benefit from groups that meet after the dinner hour.

Finding available groups may take some effort. Local newspaper listings, regional cancer societies, and hospitals or doctors can lead to a variety of group choices. Talking to other patients while in the oncologist's waiting room may also help find groups. Patients who let others know they wish to join a group may have more success than those who keep it to themselves.

For patients who cannot find a group that meets their needs, starting a new group is an option. Designing the group's structure and advertising its existence should attract members. Consistency and flexibility with the group's changing needs will contribute to its success.

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