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mesothelioma chemotherapy

The basic structure of Support Groups

Different cancer support groups have different structures based on factors like longevity, group leadership and meeting schedules.

Self-help cancer support groups: These are also known as mutual help support groups, reason being that some of these groups may not have a leader. Or it is possible that the leader or the leaders themselves may have started the group. The leader may be a veteran cancer patient or someone who was chosen by the group’s sponsor organization. There are also leaders that just evolve, gradually learning to play the leadership role.

Some self-help cancer support groups have a completely different structure and their membership is determined based on certain common interests such as golfing, cooking, or visiting art museums. Although membership is usually free, at times members may be requested to make voluntary donations (for refreshments).

Professionally led cancer support groups: Members of these groups define precise objectives and “group work” at the very beginning. The meetings are coordinated by a health-care professional so that the group can stay on track and achieve its goals. Very often, the health-care professional has expertise in a specific area, for example, cancer, any of the mental health disciplines or managing group dynamics and processes.

A fee may be required to join such groups, but generally it is not very pricey. In some cases, individuals may be offered financial aid to provide for the costs. Some patients may also benefit from a sliding-fee scale based on their income. Costs associated with such groups may also be covered by some health insurance plans.

Ongoing support groups: These types of cancer support groups hold meetings at a specified time and date. One of the main advantages of these groups is that membership is very flexible, in that you can join or leave as per your individual needs. However, the downside is that it may take some time for a new member to feel comfortable, especially if most of the members are veteran participants.

Time-Limited groups: These cancer support groups are run for a specified time duration, after which they are wound up. For example, a support group may function only for a day or may continue for 4 weeks. There are also groups that are convened based on demand. Some others may function at regular intervals throughout the year. These are generally led by health-care professionals and individuals wanting to join are usually required to pay a fee. These groups are most suitable for individuals who don’t have enough time or those who may not be able to commit to joining and getting involved with a longstanding, open-ended group. One of the drawbacks of these groups is that in case you miss the start of a particular session, you may have to wait (or look around) for the start of the next session.

Some experts opine that support groups are not meant for everyone. However, they also say that chances are very rare that members may experience emotional harm, especially when the group is being led by an experienced health-care professional. These professionals have a good understanding of group dynamics and they can identify specific signs (for example a treatment setback or a major depression) that may indicate an individual’s vulnerability and the kind of support and professional help he/she may require.

 

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This website is sponsored by Brad Cooper* of The Cooper, Hart, Leggiero, & Whitehead, PLLC. Cooper, Hart, Leggiero, & Whitehead is located in The Woodlands, Texas (Greater Houston Area) and can be reached toll free at 1-800-998-9729 for more information on mesothelioma. Brad Cooper is not a medical doctor. The information on these pages is for the education of mesothelioma patients and their families regarding potential medical and legal options. Patients are advised to consult with a medical doctor.

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