Have you found yourself wondering who exactly is welcome at breast cancer support groups? If you’ve never been in any sort of cancer support group you may have a hard time trying to figure out exactly who would be welcome and who would not be.
That can be a problem. Is the patient the only one allowed to go? What about their caretaker? Spouse? Parents? Children? Friends? Can anyone show up to provide moral support to the patient at all?
This could seem like quite the conundrum, and that can be pretty stressful. That stress can just seem to become greater when you’re trying to see who you can bring with you to the cancer support group. Lots of people go to these meetings, but who is allowed as your guest?
Today we’re going to take a closer look at this question, look at what a cancer support group is, and hopefully by the time you’re done reading this article you’ll feel more confident in your knowledge of what general is and isn’t considered to be acceptable at cancer support groups.
Table of Contents
What Exactly is a Cancer Support Group?
Before delving into who you can bring along for your breast cancer support meetings, let’s make sure that everyone reading knows exactly what a cancer support group is. This might seem like a trivial thing to go over but we do want to be completely sure that all of our readers are able to follow along.
Cancer support groups are essentially just groups where people with cancer meet up to talk about their issues and try to support one another. This can usually help with a number of things including:
- Learning better coping skills.
- Establishing a feeling of hope.
- Locating resources to further assist the patients.
- Forming human connections.
- Lessening the feeling of being alone.
- Estate planning.
- General community support.
If you’ve ever seen the hit 1999 film Fight Club they actually have a good depiction of a cancer support group in it. These groups are typically a lot like group therapy sessions where everyone just sits in chairs in a circle and talks about their problems.
Some groups are specifically for helping get patients’ estates in order, some groups are specifically for emotional support, some groups are for both. There are some groups that provide refreshments and some that don’t.
The point is, there’s a large variety of groups out there for support so if you feel like you need it you could find a group that would work well for you. No two groups are identical so if you don’t like how one is run you could always just try another one.
Who is Invited to the Cancer Support Group?
Here’s an important question, who is allowed to go to the cancer support group with you? Most patients would prefer not to go alone, so knowing exactly who they’re able to bring with them can make a huge difference.
So, who is typically allowed at your average cancer support group? We’re not talking about ones that are more closed or open than others, just your average, ordinary, everyday cancer support group. Well, even that can vary significantly.
Generally speaking, the caretaker and patient are allowed to go to the meeting. More times than not you’ll be able to find groups that are willing to accommodate that much, and it’s rare for groups to be more strict than that because the caretaker should probably be with the patient at all times.
Some groups are a lot more welcoming, allowing anyone to attend that wants to attend. That means the patient, their caretaker, friends, family, and whoever else they might want to invite. That could also mean just random people that happen to walk into the group.
These kinds of groups that are super inviting do have a major rule and that’s just not to cause any issues for the people that are actually looking for support. No one wants to have someone being a menace in their cancer support group, and disruptive people are typically thrown out quickly.
That being said, you never know who might pop into a cancer support group. Maybe a group you’re at is hosted in a hospital and someone is looking for somewhere to be while their loved one is in surgery so they stumble in to pass the time.
So long as it’s not a closed group and they don’t cause a scene, it’s typically not a big deal. Some groups even encourage polite outsiders to sit in on their meetings just so that there are some new faces that pop up from time to time.
On the exact opposite end of the spectrum are where your closed groups exist. These groups do not have any sort of an open-door policy, meaning that only patients, and typically their caretakers, are welcome.
We haven’t seen any groups where the patient’s caretaker isn’t welcome so we don’t think that those kinds of groups exist, but stranger things have happened so don’t be shocked if you do find one. The most that we can say with certainty is that those are rare.
How to Tell if a Group is Closed or Open
Different people have different preferences for their support groups. Some people prefer that the doors are opened to all that want to come so they can bring their caretaker and potentially another person, and some people don’t want anyone there that doesn’t have to be there.
Knowing if a group is closed or open can be tricky off the bat, but there are a few things that you can do to find out before you start attending the group. For example:
- Ask the group coordinator.
- The group coordinator will be able to tell you exactly what the rules are without question, meaning that you can call, text, or email them asking for clarification and they’ll be happy to oblige.
- Read the group description carefully:
- Depending on where you find the group, you might have a description to read over. That description will more than likely tell you what the rules of that meeting at.
- Just show up to the meeting and see what the environment is like.
- If all else fails, you could just show up to the meeting and see what it looks like. Open-door meetings will typically look a lot different than closed-door meetings and you should be able to tell which one you’re at by looking at who’s there.
Determining which one is better for you is a whole nother issue, but knowing how to tell if a group is open or closed can save you a bit of hassle in the process of finding a good group.
How to Tell if You Want an Open or Closed Group
Before we wind this article down, let’s try to help you find out if you’d prefer an open or a closed group. Whichever you prefer is fine, this is your journey so you should make choices that make you feel more comfortable.
You might want an open group if you:
- Want to bring more people than just your caretaker.
- Don’t mind people that aren’t there for anyone with cancer and don’t have cancer themselves.
You might want a closed group if you:
- Only want to bring your caretaker.
- Only want people directly associated with the patient in attendance.
Really, outside of those criteria, it’s up to you to determine where your comfort level with this is. You’re the only one that can make the choice for you, so nobody else has the ability to tell you which kind of group you should go to.
If you want to find a group that lies somewhere between absolutely open and absolutely closed you can find those, too. There are all manner of groups for all manner of people. The most important thing is that you choose whatever option will make you feel the most comfortable.
Whether you want an open group, closed group, or even if you decide to attend online instead of in person, there are options available for you that will certainly help you get the support that you need during these difficult times.
People seek out support for their cancer every single day, and there’s nothing wrong with what kind of cancer group you decide to go to so long as it’s one that you feel will help you feel like you’re getting the support that you want and need.
Knowing How to Choose Cancer Support Groups
There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to selecting your cancer support group. You don’t have to stress yourself out about it though, just think long and hard about what it is that you would want from this kind of group.
Whatever it is that you decide you want is probably going to be the kind of group that you want to enter. Depending on where you live, there’s a good chance that you could get everything you need in your group without even having to drive too far.