After undergoing a lumpectomy, Karen McGowan of Swedesboro faced questions that thousands of women face every year. Will I need chemo? Radiation? Some other treatment? And because it was March 2020, another question was on her mind. Would she be comfortable going to a hospital for treatment just as COVID-19 was arriving in South Jersey?
Holistic approaches to health care that take into account all aspects of a person’s health are becoming increasingly popular when it comes to cancer care. Support groups, which can help support patients’ mental health during treatment, are one important tenet of this approach.
Types of Support Groups
Support groups are not a new concept, but they’ve evolved over the years to be more inclusive and accessible.
“Studies show that support groups can be an integral part of a well-rounded treatment plan, and more providers and care coordinators recommend them to patients,” said Erin McAllister, MSW, LSW a licensed social worker and Program Director of Gilda's Club South Jersey. “We’ve seen an increase in the variety of ways in which these groups meet.”
One of the most common types of support groups is an online group. These groups have always been popular because they’re accessible from anywhere. But they become even more important in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, where immunocompromised patients are urged to stay at home for their safety.
In addition to online groups, traditional in-person support groups, where people meet in person at a designated location a few times a month, remain popular. These groups offer the chance to meet face-to-face with patients and families who are fighting similar battles.
“By participating in a support group, you're sharing experiences with individuals who've gone through similar struggles," said McAllister. “While sharing your own experience, you can learn and grow from the experiences of others.”
Where To Find A Support Group
Inspira Health partners with Gilda’s Club, a community- based organization that provides resources in emotional and social support for the cancer community. This partnership offers Inspira patients an additional resource as they receive treatment at one of Inspira’s leading edge Cancer Centers.
“By partnering with Gilda’s Club, Inspira now offers services from a leading expert in cancer patient support services, including support groups,” said Michelle Marshall, Assistant Vice President of Cancer Services for Inspira Health. “This partnership at both of our Cancer Centers offers a new level of support for our community.”
Learn more about attending Inspira’s virtual cancer support or call for an appointment with our cancer specialists 1-800-INSPIRA.