To some, the words ‘support group’ can conjure the image of a dingy community space, a circle of plastic chairs, and gloomy topics of conversation. We want to dispel these myths.
For decades, we’ve been hosting support groups for all those affected by blood cancer. Whilst our support groups have moved online in the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re still going strong. We’ve enjoyed seeing new and old faces in our virtual groups as we’ve gathered on Zoom for a chat, a Q&A with an expert, and many other exciting activities.
So, why should you attend a Leukaemia Care support group?
First, let’s hear why Liz Parkinson attends:
“I was hesitant to go to the support groups at first. I had accompanied friends and family members to a few similar meetings related to their various health issues; I didn’t need the negativity I had found at some of those meetings.
I joined a couple of groups about chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) on social media, and they were OK. A lady told me about my local group with Leukaemia Care and invited me along.
I mustered up the courage to go, and I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. A dozen or so people sat around in a nice room with cups of tea, and a speaker. I felt welcome and comfortable, and I enjoyed meeting the other people. I now go to every meeting. Jessica, from Leukaemia Care, has found some excellent speakers, very relevant to people with CLL. I have learnt so much about CLL, and about how to live with it.
During lockdown, I can’t put into words how helpful it was to be able to talk to other people with CLL who were shielding, and who understood the issues we were all facing. Meetings were on Zoom, and they may still be when you are reading this.
I am glad I got the courage to attend that first meeting. Why not see if you feel the same after your first meeting?”
Liz was hesitant to attend a support group for the same reasons we listed at the start of this article, but we understand you might have other apprehensions. Here, we’ve myth-busted some of the more common reasons:
Myth: I will have to share lots of personal details about my diagnosis/treatment.
Reality: There is no need to share anything personal, and most support groups have at least one person who just likes to listen to others. You will not be pressured to contribute.
Myth: Support groups are all about emotional support and I don’t need that.
Reality: Although emotional support can be part of a support group, our meetings are full of practical tips and often involve hearing from a range of speakers. Emotional support is more a focus of our helpline, counselling fund and hospital support workers.
Myth: Everyone will know more about blood cancer than I do. I don’t want to look stupid.
Reality: Peer support is the best part of our support groups. You will be joining a group of people who have had very similar experiences to you, and who are often great at giving advice. You can learn so much from those who have been in the same position as you.
Myth: Everyone else in the group might know each other already. I don’t know anyone.
Reality: Everyone was new once and we’re a friendly bunch. Moving our meetings online means many ‘local’ groups now welcome attendees from all across the UK!
Have we managed to convince you? If you’d like to find out more, or find the right group for you, you can see all our groups on our website here.
Alternatively, give us a call on 08088 010 444 and we’ll get you set up for the right support group.