I have found myself encountering different crisis throughout my life and the times that I’ve handled that crisis better (not particularly well, just better) was when I found a group of people in the same or similar phases of life so that we could face that crisis together. Whether it was wanting to be married versus single, infertility when all I could do was hope and wish for a child, my mother’s cancer diagnosis, looking for a job, graduating from school and looking to establish a career, leaving an established firm and starting my own law firm, or the myriad of small issues in between, a support group of people who “got” me was invaluable.
When I was initially diagnosed as Stage II in March of 2017, I was overwhelmed, going to a million different doctor appointments and in and out of the hospital with surgery and chemo, etc., so I never attended a formal support group in person. When we found out in June of 2017 that I’d actually been Stage IV from the beginning, I then wanted to attend, but was told not to come because I might scare the early stage patients. I was honestly pretty angry about that and didn’t pursue support groups in person for a bit after that.
The support groups I’ve found to be the most helpful are the ones online. It’s hard for me with little kiddos to get to support groups in person in the evenings. I’ve backed away from most of the groups that mix early stage breast cancer patients with those of us who are metastatic since the experiences are just so different and our needs are different. The online support groups are helpful because someone is always awake and able to chime in when I have a question or a concern or just need to connect with someone. In one of the support groups I admin, we match women by age and geography through our “Sister Buddy” program so that there are more opportunities to connect.
Now that COVID is affecting everyone in so many ways, each of the in person support groups have moved online. I see a lot of people who are struggling with isolation and all of the things that come with having a terminal illness and dealing with a global pandemic. Connecting to others can be extremely helpful.
At my cancer center, we have a metastatic support group and I worked with the team to create a video to encourage others to attend. Support groups are so key to dealing with so many things and not feeling alone is something that everyone needs. Check out the video I helped with here.
Outside of my cancer center, I’ve been honored to help moderate a Stage IV support group via zoom with my Dad. You can find out about the support group for those of us in the MBC community and the others offered by the 305 Pink Pack here.
Wherever you find a support group, be sure to make it a regular part of your life and routine. You won’t regret it.