Being diagnosed with cancer is a painful experience. Most of the patients thus diagnosed are prone to anxiety, fear, anger, distress and a sense of loss which may lead them to isolate themselves. With an objective to provide psychosocial support for these patients and their caregivers, Coimbatore Cancer Foundation in coordination with the Valavadi Narayanaswamy Cancer Centre has been organizing Cancer Support Group meetings for the past six years.
Counsellors facilitate the forum by inviting the doctors, dietician, physiotherapist and other guest speakers to educate and empower the patients and their caregivers. This helps them to improve their coping skills, sense of adjustment, and to have a better control over the situation.
Through this support group the patients meet and interact with the cancer survivors, who may have had similar experiences. This brings a sense of belief in “a life after cancer” to the patients and builds confidence in them. It is a connecting medium for them, which paves the way to develop strong relationships among themselves.
To provide emotional support to the patients and their caregivers, the counsellors discuss on specific topics on the psychological aspects like connecting the body, mind and spirit; dealing with the fear of recurrence; to cope with the body image changes, etc. They also conduct various activities like ice-breaking sessions, storytelling, movement therapies, art therapies and displaying video clips related to them, to encourage them to share their feelings and experiences openly in the forum.
These groups meet patients regularly – the Cervical Cancer Support Group meets on the first Tuesday of every month, and the Breast Cancer Support Group meets on the last Thursday and Paediatric cancer support group meet once in two months at Sangamam Hall, VNCC, GKNM hospital.
Feedbacks about the program are collected from the patients and the caregivers after every meeting.