Support groups are one of the most helpful and complementary methods of assisting patients and their families to face issues and overcome difficulties. When a patient and the patient’s family start to feel overwhelmed by the conditions of the prostate cancer, they often turn to a support group for help and advice. In addition, support groups provide outstanding opportunities to gain knowledge not only about the personal that challenges patients and their families face, but also about the different types of treatments for prostate cancer and their side effects. Many doctors recommend support groups because they realize that when a patient and his family are undergoing extreme distress from the conditions related to prostate cancer, they often find relief from other individuals who have or are currently experiencing similar experiences—support group members are in a unique position to provide effective support to other members of the support group.
Many doctors and facilitators of support groups call this process of patients and the patients’ families helping each other as the “same boat” syndrome. When patients and their families attend support groups they are able to verbalize their feelings and receive empathy from others who truly understand their situations. Even though their main objective is to find strength and hope, patients and their families also often gain information about the disease of prostate cancer and the treatment as well as information about available resources inside and outside of the medical field.
There are also support groups that are designed specifically for men with prostate cancer that assist in providing information to patients regarding the disease process, treatment options, side effects of treatment, and self-care strategies. Most importantly, support groups provide a safe haven for men with prostate cancer to verbalize their feelings about issues such as impaired body image, sexual inadequacy, and issues centered on depression, anxiety, and fears of recurrence and death. Support groups guide patients in problem solving, decision-making, instillation of hope, and verbalization of intimate feelings and emotions.
One of the best ways for patients and their families to find a prostate cancer support group is to contact your local hospital that often provide meetings on a regular basis—weekly, bimonthly, or monthly. Your medical team may also be able to direct you to a group near you. Us TOO, an advocacy organization that maintains a great online information center from prostate cancer patients, has a database of hundreds of prostate cancer patient support groups across the nation. Often there is a facilitator or a trained therapist at these prostate cancer support groups who has a medical background and can help answer questions about any number of concerns: nutrition, treatment of erectile dysfunction, treatment of urinary incontinence, and updates on newer forms of chemotherapy.
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