Posts Tagged ‘cancer support groups’

Cancer Support Groups at Emory Johns Creek

Cancer support groups provide patients and families a chance to meet with others who are experiencing similar life challenges and often share their concerns, fears and hopes. These groups are led by licensed social workers, registered nurses and other professionals.

Emory Johns Creek Hospital offers three cancer support groups to the community:

Johns Creek Women’s Cancer Support Group

Johns Creek Women’s Cancer Support Group meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in Emory Johns Creek Hospital’s education center, on the lower level. These classes allow participants to meet face-to-face with fellow cancer patients and survivors. The sessions offer helpful coping skills and strategies to help patients through their experience. Attendees will also hear presentations by health, nutrition, fitness and legal experts. For more information, contact peggytitushall@gmail.com.

Colorectal Cancer Support Group

The Colorectal Cancer Support Group meets the 4th Tuesday of each month from 3 – 4:30 p.m. in the dining room at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, on the lower level. This group is designed to provide emotional support for patients going through treatment for colorectal cancer or those newly diagnosed and their caregivers. For more information, call Joy McCall, LCSW, OSW-C at 404-938-0918 or email her at joy.mccall@emoryhealthcare.org.

CLIMB – Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery

CLIMB is a 6-week children’s support group. The group is designed for children ages 6 – 11 years-old who have a parent or grandparent with a cancer diagnosis. Each week the group focuses on a different feeling and completes an art project to help children talk about those feelings. Registration is required for this group. CLIMB is a national program through the Children’s Treehouse Foundation. For more information, call Joy McCall, LCSW, OSW-C at 404-938-0918 or email her at joy.mccall@emoryhealthcare.org.

Coping After Cancer Treatment is Finished

Cancer TherapyA cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. In fact, many patients have told me that cancer can easily define your life with on-going treatment lasting months and even years. Many patients stop working, limit their social interactions and even change roles within their household as a way to focus on completing treatment. You might think that once chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are over a patient would celebrate and move on, but that’s not always the case. Many patients feel lost and can find themselves asking what now? The intense focus on treatment often overshadows the future.

Here are five tips to help you cope after your treatment is finished:

  1. Consider attending a local support group. They are a great way to connect with others who have a similar diagnosis and have completed treatment. Support groups are a safe place to discuss the feelings that go along with being done with treatment and handling post treatment life.
  2. Reach out to a social worker or counselor. They are often available to provide individual counseling. This is helpful in allowing you an opportunity to identify your strengths and appropriate ways to move forward now that you’re better.
  3. Think of what helped you cope before treatment. Make a list of things that made you feel better when you were having a difficult time before you were diagnosed or treated. Some of those same healthy techniques such as exercise, yoga, or talking to a friend could be useful post treatment.
  4. Don’t rush yourself. Be realistic about your expectations of how you should feel after treatment. Be sure to ask your medical team how you should feel both physically and emotionally post treatment. Remember, you have been through a lot, and it will take time for you to fully recover. Putting additional stress and pressure on yourself to “feel better” because you are finished with treatment can only make this more difficult.
  5. Remind yourself you are a survivor! You have survived your diagnosis and treatment. Positive self-talk is beneficial in reducing stress and decreasing depressive symptoms.

More than 14 million Americans are cancer survivors. No matter what the type or stage of the disease, reaching out for additional support and assistance is just as important after treatment as it is during treatment.

About Joy McCall, LCSW

Joy McCallJoy McCall is a Winship social worker with bone marrow transplant, hematology and gynecologic teams and their patients. She started her professional career at Winship as an intern, working with breast, gynecologic, brain and melanoma cancer patients. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Kennesaw State University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia. As part of her education she completed an internship with the Marcus Institute working on the pediatric feeding unit, and an internship counseling individuals and couples at Families First, supporting families and children facing challenges to build strong family bonds and stability for their future. She had previously worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for over 4 years, providing support to families and caregivers.

Resources

Living with Cancer

Sign-up to Learn the Biology of Cancer

biology-cancerHave you ever wondered about the biology behind cancer? If so, join Assistant Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Gregg Orloff, Ph.D, on Tuesday, August 6 at noon for an interactive, live, web chat on the “Biology of Cancer.” He will be available to discuss questions such as:

  • What is cancer?
  • What causes cancer?
  • What can you do to prevent cancer?
  • How is cancer diagnosed and treated?
  • What is the role of infectious organisms like viruses in cancer?
  • Why and how cancer spreads.
  • Why do cancer drugs not always work.

This interesting chat will open your eyes to what cancer is and what you can do to help reduce the chances that you or your family members will be diagnosed with the disease.

Chat Sign Up

The Role of Support Groups in Cancer Survivorship

Cancer Survivorship Peer Partners Web ChatAs an Oncology Social Worker at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, I provide resources and support to patients and their families throughout the cancer journey. During my first visit with a new patient, I often suggest that he or she try out one of the many support groups offered at Winship or in the community. The response I get from this suggestion varies depending on the patient from enthusiasm to absolute fear.  As a facilitator of two support groups at Winship, I am admittedly a strong advocate of joining a group. However, I understand the apprehension some feel towards sharing the ups and downs of the cancer journey with other people.

For those uncomfortable with participating in support groups, I often outline the benefits of using support groups as a method to cope and connect to others in similar situations. Research from The American Cancer Society provides the following about support groups:

  • Support groups can enhance the quality of life for people with cancer by providing information and support to overcome feelings of aloneness and helplessness.
  • Support groups can help reduce tension, anxiety, fatigue and confusion.
  • There is a strong link between group support and greater tolerance of cancer treatment and treatment compliance.
  • People with cancer are better able to deal with their disease when supported by others.

Dr. Sujatha Murali, Assistant Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Winship, endorses the use of support groups. Dr. Murali states, “support groups are an integral part of treating the whole patient. At Emory, we believe in a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, which not only includes physicians and nurses, but social workers, pharmacists, and nutritionists. We believe this approach results in the best chance of treatment success.”

Still not convinced joining a support group is right for you? Fortunately, support groups come in different forms and sizes. For those uncomfortable with face-to-face group settings, online or telephone groups are great alternatives. Some groups are lead by professional clinicians while others are organized by cancer survivors themselves. Groups can be disease, age or gender specific and some meet weekly, monthly or have no time limit at all.  With all these options available, there’s bound to be a support group to fit anyone’s needs! And if you’re still not sure where to turn, you can always contact me or other social workers at Winship with your questions or by using the comments field below. You can also join Joan Giblin, Director of the Survivorship Program at the Winship Cancer Institute in our upcoming online chat on the Cancer Survivorship and Peer Partners Program at Winship.

Interested in joining a support group, but do not know how to select the right one? The first step is to speak with your oncology social worker!  If you aren’t sure who your social worker is, simply ask your doctor or nurse to point him or her out. Most cancer centers have oncology social workers dedicated to support your psychosocial needs and overall well-being.  Some recommended and approved groups are available through the following sites:

To close, I’d like to share a quote I often share with my patients. It’s out of Mr. Fred Rogers’s book, Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers: Things to Remember Along the Way. He writes, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we’re not alone.”

The cancer journey can be overwhelming, especially if traveled alone. The benefit of allowing others to provide support and care can be life-changing, and possibly life-saving. Join us as we kick-off some of our new support groups, including the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Support Group on Thursday, June 14, 2012. For more information, please see visit our website at http://winshipcancer.emory.edu/groups.

About the Author
Margaret “Maggie” K. Hughes is a Licensed Master of Social Worker at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. She works with Drs. Hawk, Murali, Kucuk, Carthon and El-Rayes. Maggie facilitates the Pancreatic Cancer Support group and co-facilitates the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Support Group at Winship.

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