Brain Tumors: Frequently Asked Questions | Jon Weingart, M.D.
Brain Tumor Support Groups
Talking to people with similar fears and experiences may be just the medicine you need to get through what lies ahead.
By Krisha McCoy
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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If you have been diagnosed with a spinal cord or brain tumor, a support group may help you better cope with your illness. Being around people who share similar fears and experiences can provide a level of comfort that your loved ones often cannot. Plus, you can pick up invaluable tips about treatment and recovery from other patients who have walked a similar path.
"People who don't know what you're going through can kind of make you feel better, but it is different when it is someone in your same situation," says Vinnie Basile of Gypsum, Colo., who was diagnosed with an astrocytoma in 1997 when he was 12 years old.
Brain Tumor: Types of Support Groups
There are all kinds of support groups available, depending on your needs and preferences. Types of support groups include:
- In-person groups.Support groups that meet in person usually get together at regular intervals to share their experiences and help each other through difficult times.
- Online groups.The Internet offers a variety of online support groups where you can talk to other people who also have a brain or spinal cord tumor. But be careful: Medical professionals may not be monitoring what’s said in chat rooms and on message boards. So always ask your medical team about any therapies or treatments you learn about in these groups.
- Therapy groups.Therapy groups are organized by a mental health professional who leads the group in a counseling session in which members are challenged to grow and learn through their experiences. Therapy groups are particularly helpful for people who have emotional problems such as depression.
- Educational group.An educational group is a great resource if you are looking for more information about your spinal cord or brain tumor. It is usually involves an expert presentation followed by a question-and-answer session or discussion.
- Family support groups.If your family is having a difficult time with your diagnosis and treatment, they might benefit from a family support group made up of other people who have relatives in similar situations.
Brain Tumor: Benefits of Support Groups
After Basile was diagnosed with his tumors, he joined a support group of teens who met monthly. "When you get together with people in a similar situation like that, everybody's sickness is secondary and everybody is there to just have fun and get your mind off things," he says. "Everybody knows what you're going through."
Whatever type of group you choose, it can provide you with many benefits, including:
- Companionship.Being diagnosed with a spinal cord or brain tumor can be isolating, and getting together with other people who are going through it can make you feel less alone.
- Sense of purpose.Since you can provide people with support and tips for coping with their illness and its treatments, being part of a support group can add meaning to your life and make you feel accomplished.
- Education.You can also learn from the experiences of others, since people who are further along in their treatment may be able to give you insight and tips for coping with what lies ahead.
- Emotional healing.A support group can be a great place for you to let go of some of the pent-up emotions that you are experiencing.
Finding a Brain Tumor Support Group
Ask your doctors if they can recommend a spinal cord and brain tumor support group in your area. You can also search the Internet for online support groups, such as , National Brain Tumor Society, and . Some of these organizations may also be able to help you locate an in-person support group in your area.
Figuring out what type of support group will work best for you may take some time. You may attend a session when you are first diagnosed and find it unhelpful or uncomfortable. But, as time goes on, talking to people with similar stories may be just the medicine you need to get through what lies ahead.
Video: Importance of Cancer Support Groups
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