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Online breast cancer support groups

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer, you may find a support group helpful

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LBBC offers three private Facebook support groups

Support groups are groups of people who meet regularly in a safe space for sharing and processing feelings. These groups provide a chance to connect with other people going through similar experiences, and they offer opportunities to learn from and help one another. Support groups may meet in person or online, and they can work in a variety of ways.

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Why join an online support group?

Many support groups now meet online in a variety of ways:

  • Through video conferences, using programs such as Zoom or Google Meet
  • By using discussion boards, where you can post messages that other members can read and respond to
  • Through social media groups, which you can find by searching on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms

Research shows that support groups can help people feel better understood, more hopeful, and less alone. Groups can help with anxiety and depression, too, while also providing a place for what-to-expect advice and tips from people who’ve been there. And usually, they cost nothing to join.

Here are some ways support groups can offer a sense of emotional well-being:

  • Reducing stress by allowing a space to connect with people who share similar first-hand experiences
  • Giving you opportunities to talk about and work through your feelings
  • Helping you have a greater sense of belonging
  • Allowing you to share experiences and find support for practical challenges at home, work, or school
  • Providing a confidential, safe space where you can discuss things you might not feel free to talk about in other places
  • Offering tips for dealing with treatment side effects and other day-to-day challenges
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Mia sitting in her home, smiling

"What was really cool about it was the camaraderie I had with others who could relate to what I was talking about. … It was an amazing opportunity to be supported by people who understood what I had been going through, and being there for other people who were going through similar things was really powerful. "

Mia Tardive

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Mia Tardive, 43-year-old speech-language pathologist, wife, and mother of three, joined a support group after being diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.

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Benefits of online support groups

In-person and virtual groups have different benefits and limitations:

  • Virtual support groups are accessible from anywhere. You don’t need to be in a particular city or town, and you don’t have to worry about transportation or mobility issues.
  • Online discussion boards have the advantage of being accessible at any time of day — whenever there’s something you’d like to discuss — and allow you to connect to many people who can relate to what you want to say.
  • On the other hand, online communication sometimes leave a bit more room for misunderstanding because it doesn’t offer the exact same verbal and nonverbal cues as in-person conversation does.
  • In-person groups allow for more immediate action if a crisis arises. They also make it easier to know who is leading the group, if anyone, and what qualifications that person has.

Like in-person groups, many online groups are led by a licensed social worker or counselor. Feel free to ask about the leader’s credentials if they are not given to you.

Online support groups can be very convenient because they don’t involve travel or transportation. But sometimes there can be technology glitches, and an online group may not feel as personal or connected as an in-person group. On the other hand, some people find that sharing can feel more comfortable online rather than in person. You can learn about online support groups through your nurse navigator or hospital social worker, friends, other people going through a cancer diagnosis, or cancer organizations.

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Which group is right for you?

If you’re looking at different kinds of groups, you’ll notice that many overlap in what they offer. For example, there may be emotional support available in a few different kinds of groups, such as a private Facebook group or a facilitated video meetup. A general cancer support group may offer great connection and shared experiences of feelings about diagnosis, treatment, and relationship issues. But sometimes you may be looking for more specific support that’s just for people diagnosed with breast cancer. And some people decide to join more than one group. See what feels right to you.

Whatever group you decide to try, it should offer at least one of these benefits:

  • Information
  • Emotional and social support
  • Stress management strategies or relaxation techniques
  • Empowerment
  • Tools to help you adapt to change
  • Ways to manage fear or anxiety
  • Support for your loved ones and caregivers

If you join a support group, here are some things to keep in mind when others are sharing information and experiences:

  • If medical information or advice is shared, be sure to talk to your healthcare team about it before deciding to take action on it. Information shared in groups is not always monitored or accurate, even though it’s usually well intentioned.
  • Some information, such as other people’s fears or experiences, may have an impact your emotional well-being. If this happens, let your doctor, hospital social worker, or a licensed counselor know. People can have very different feelings about what they’re experiencing, and your experience may not be the same as another group member’s.

Research shows that when people acknowledge feelings, avoid isolation, and feel a sense of control, they can experience improved health and quality of life. There is also evidence showing that structured groups for people diagnosed with cancer can help psychological well-being, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve coping. While support groups may not be for everyone, for some people, they can bring ongoing supportive connection.

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How to find a group

There are many ways to find an online support group. Often, the best way to find a trusted group is by word-of-mouth through your care team, hospital social worker, friends, or family.

You can find more online and in-person support groups through:

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Reviewed and updated: January 5, 2022

Reviewed by: Kelly Grosklags LICSW, BCD, FAAGC

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Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to create a world that understands there is more than one way to have breast cancer. To fulfill its mission of providing trusted information and a community of support to those impacted by the disease, Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers on-demand emotional, practical, and evidence-based content. For over 30 years, the organization has remained committed to creating a culture of acceptance — where sharing the diversity of the lived experience of breast cancer fosters self-advocacy and hope. For more information, learn more about our programs and services.