Support Groups

18 Jan

 

I’m a little unusual when it comes to cancer patients – I had absolutely no desire to join a cancer support group when I was diagnosed.  I didn’t need to hear about people who had the biggest scare of their life because they had to have kidney surgery, only to have that surgery cure them completely.  After all, not only did I have my kidney removed, but I was also going to have to be on chemo for the rest of my (drastically shortened) life.

I also didn’t want to make friends only to have them die on me shortly after meeting them.  I’m not very good at saying goodbye.

Not to mention that most cancer groups in my area were dedicated to mothers with cancer or women with breast cancer.  I obviously don’t fit into either of those categories.

And while I did want a more involved social life, I didn’t want to sit around dwelling on cancer all the time.  Thinking about cancer a lot depresses me, and I don’t have time to be depressed.

There are benefits to belonging to support groups, of course.  First of all, it helps to get to know people who are going through exactly the same thing you are.  As much as your family and friends and caretakers may try, they just can’t relate.  It also helps to get advice on such difficult topics as how to break the news of your diagnosis, how to go about funeral planning, how to get through the days where you just feel like it isn’t worth it anymore.  And you can get advice on everything from how to deal with chemo side effects to how best to apply makeup when you don’t have eyebrows or eyelashes anymore.

I’ve always been a do-it-yourself girl, though.  I lived alone with my mom from the time I was four years old.  At 15, I moved away to finish high school at a private boarding school.  At 17, I moved across the country to Vermont to go to college, and then at 19 I moved across the Atlantic to France to study abroad in a foreign language.  After college I came home to take care of an ill family member and work to earn money for graduate school.  Then, when I was 22, I moved back overseas to earn my Master’s Degree in Switzerland (even though I had been told it was impossible to pass the entrance exams and be accepted to the University of Geneva’s translation program).

So even though there are good things about support groups, their benefits just didn’t outweigh the downsides in my fly-it-solo lifestyle.

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