Modern Western medicine is often criticised for being all about the body. As medical treatments advance there can be a single-minded focus on the physical healing, and less on the spiritual, emotional and mental wellness which is also required to endure ill health.
Research in 1989 by David Spiegel of Stanford University woke the world up to the benefits of support groups, when he showed a significant improvement
in the duration and quality of the lives of breast cancer patients who participated in professionally led groups.
His findings have been applied to support the argument in favour of support groups for all types of illnesses, and many have wondered whether he had the success he did precisely because he did his study amongst breast cancer patients, who are for the most part largely female.
Women share more easily, open up more quickly and arguably often have more need for an emotional outlet, hardwired as we are to staying strong for those around us.
Finding some kind of professional support, be it in groups or one-on-one, should be regarded as an essential and complementary component of the treatment of breast cancer.
Finding the right support system for you is just as important. The same way you might ‘shop’ around for a doctor you feel comfortable with, it’s worth trying different support organisations or different therapists. Some are focused on the newly-diagnosed, others are for post-treatment breast cancer survivors and others are for patients and their loved ones. Some may be religion based.
Joining a group has value not just for emotional support, but also for guiding cancer patients through the process of treatments, insurance, what to expect etc. Peer-mentoring is something the many international cancer groups actively support – matching trained mentors ( cancer buddies ) up with patients of similar age and circumstance, facing the same kinds of cancer. It seems the benefits of this are immeasurable as long as everyone involved understands that mentors are there to provide support, not medical advice the biggest gift they give a new cancer patient is hope and we all now that without hope is a much needed aspect in the healing journey with cancer
We all know that to share our thoughts is also to share our burdens, there are many good breast cancer support groups in South Africa, some of which are listed here.
Reach for Recovery: http://www.reach4recovery.org.za/contact_us.html
People Living With Cancer :www.plwc.org.za
Pink Chicks Cancer Support Foundation: www.pinkchicks.co.za
Bosom Buddies, Breast Cancer Support Foundation in South Africa: http://bosombuddies.cfsites.org/Amabele Belles Dragon boat group: