If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you probably feel shocked or overwhelmed to a degree you never thought possible. Even if you have plenty of friends and family to lean on, it might occasionally feel like you don’t have anyone who quite understands what you’re going through. This connection – this commiseration you need – is what support groups are for.
During the many years we’ve helped mesothelioma patients at Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley, we’ve learned that there’s almost always a support service out there for you.
If you’ve never visited a support group (most people haven’t), here are some things to know about them, including their benefits, their limitations and where to find them.
Benefits of Mesothelioma Support Groups
Support groups are often as simple as you’d think. In-person groups usually meet weekly or monthly, often in a church, school or community center. Many support meetings will have very little in the way of structure. Instead, they’ll focus mainly on helping you express your emotions, voice your fears and meet other people like you. We’ve often had mesothelioma patients tell us that in a support group, they met people whose situations we’re almost exactly like theirs. Knowing that there are others out there sharing your experience can really help you cope with having mesothelioma.
Types of Mesothelioma Support Groups
Support groups come in a plethora of different varieties. You can take advantage of this to find one (or several!) that feel like a good fit. Some groups are for people with any kind of cancer, while others are intended solely for people with mesothelioma. While some are organized by counselors or doctors, others are patient- or survivor-led. Support groups can be just for men, women, children, the elderly, or for people with specific health complications.
Support Group Venues
Not all services are in-person. Phone-based support lines can let you talk to someone whenever you need to hear a friendly voice. Plenty of e-groups, chat rooms, internet forums exist online, too. These can help you get in touch with people from all over, especially if you live in the countryside or don’t have easy access to face-to-face services.
Limitations of Mesothelioma Support Groups
It may take a few tries to find a group or service that is a good fit for you. Don’t be discouraged! If using the internet is not your thing, try finding an in-person meeting at a local community center. If you feel like you don’t have much in common with the people in your group, consider looking for meetings and services that focus only on helping patients with mesothelioma. Finally, even though you’ll likely make some life-long friends in your support groups, be sure to only follow medical and legal advice given to you by your physicians and legal counsel. Be cautious of contacting groups via attorney websites, especially fake “.org” sites where attorney sponsorship is hidden, since these are often nothing more than disguised client solicitation devices.