What a pleasure to find an article that gives me an opportunity to write about my favorite part of my work: support groups. Many of you have attended one of my groups and know the marvelous connections we make, relationships we treasure, and wisdom we share. The shorthand description is always: "One person starts a sentence, and everyone in the room could finish the paragraph." Equally important is that we don't. Each of us is given time and space to finish sentences, to reflect, to feel, to be. One woman, when she finally decided it was time to leave the group, gave me a small wooden lighthouse which sits on a table in my office. It perfectly reflects her metaphor of her group.
If you are reading this and live near Boston, please be in touch with me if you are interested in joining a group. I have a group for women who are newly diagnosed or currently in first-time treatment, another for women who have finished treatment and are trying to figure out what comes next, and a third for women who are living with metastatic breast cancer.
Here is the abstract for the article and then a link. Tomorrow I will write about how to find and evaluate a group.
Experiences from having breast cancer and being part of a support group
SOFIA EMILSSON, R.N., M.SC.; ANN-CHRISTINE SVENSK, R.N., M.SC.; KAROLINA OLSSON, R.N., M.SC.; JACK LINDH, M.D., PH.D.; AND INGER OSTER, R.N.T. PH.D.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of breast cancer patients participating in a support group.
Method: This study explores 28 stories of women with breast cancer as expressed through written diaries. Diaries were written during a 5-week period in parallel with radiotherapy and participation in a support group in a hospital. Answers to six open-ended evaluative questions concerning the support group were included in the majority of the written diaries. A qualitative content analysis was used to identify themes.
Results: Three themes were constructed during the analysis: "positive group development." "Inhibited group development." and "the individual living with the disease." Hopes and fears for the future in regards to illness and getting better, the value of family and friends, and feelings related to daily life with breast cancer such as fatigue and changes in body image were also expressed in the diaries.
Significance of results: The findings suggest that the women with breast cancer found it valuable to be able to share experiences with other women in a similar situation in the context of a support group. Being part of such a group provided a space and an opportunity for reflection.
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