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Support Groups for Metastatic Breast Cancer

Support Groups for Metastatic Breast Cancer

How to find support from other people who are living with metastatic breast cancer.

Being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer is a life-changing event, one that can leave even the strongest of people feeling frightened, overwhelmed, and underprepared. While it is essential to have the attention and guidance from your team of healthcare providers, and the love and support of your friends and family, it can also be a major help to talk to other people with metastatic breast cancer, people who are faced with the same questions, challenges, and decisions that you are faced with. This is why many people who are living with metastatic breast cancer participate in support groups.

What are support groups?
A support group is a meeting for people who share a common experience. There are support groups that focus specifically on metastatic breast cancer, as well as support groups that have a broader focus, such as breast cancer in general or all types of cancer, and any of these may be an option. There are also support groups for caretakers, family members, and children whose lives are impacted by someone close to them having cancer.

Meetings are typically led by an organizer or moderator who guides the conversation among the participants. Groups can vary in size, schedule, and focus—for example, some are focused on patient education, while others focus more on emotional support.

In addition to support groups that meet in person, there are also online support groups and communities where you can communicate with group members via posts, instant messages, and video chats. One benefit of an online support group is that you have access to it at any hour, the day or night. They are also helpful to people who are unable to travel to meetings.

How can support groups help?
While friends, family, and loved ones can offer support, only other people who are living with metastatic breast cancer can understand what the experience is like. Support groups offer a safe, encouraging environment where you can share what you are experiencing, as well as be there for other people who need to share their experiences.

Because you’ll be speaking with other patients, support groups are also a great resource for knowledge about metastatic breast cancer. If you want to know what questions you should be asking your healthcare team, how you can cope with treatment side effects, advice on sharing your diagnosis with loved ones, or any other guidance about living with MBC, you’ll have people to ask. While support groups can be an excellent source of information, always verify any information you receive with your healthcare provider.

Where can you find a support group?
As with most things today, an Internet search is one possible starting point for finding a support group. Search for metastatic breast cancer support group plus your county or zip code to see if there are any local listings. Many cancer awareness and advocacy organizations list support groups on their websites, and some host online support groups. There are also numerous Facebook communities for people who are living with metastatic breast cancer.

Another option when looking for a support group is to ask your healthcare provider, hospital, or cancer center. Many hospitals and healthcare centers offer support groups, or may be able to direct you to an organization that does.

It’s important to keep in mind that support groups are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Different groups have different personalities and dynamics, so if you try a group and it doesn’t feel right, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try another. You may also consider organizing and hosting a support group yourself, and consider reaching out to local cancer centers, hospitals, and advocacy groups for support in getting started.

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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