There are face-to-face brain tumor support groups throughout the country. Click here to see a list of support groups by state.
Most support groups are open to both patients and family members. If it is a large group, patients and family members might meet separately. A typical group is one that is open and ongoing. This means that new members join the group, and others leave, as their needs change. Though there can be much stability in these types of groups, it is important to keep in mind that as the composition of the group changes, so will the personality of the group.
In contrast, there are other groups that are time-limited, closed groups. This means they operate for a fixed period of time, say 6-8 weeks with the same individuals. Once the group starts, it is closed to new members until the end of that time period. After that time period, a new group forms with new individuals.
All groups, whether open or closed, ongoing or time-limited, may meet weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on the needs and desires of the group members and the availability of the facilitator(s). Some support groups are professionally facilitated and some are not. A professionally facilitated group is one in which a professional, such as a social worker and/or nurse, provides guidance and direction to the group. He or she also monitors the interaction among the members to make sure that everyone's needs are being addressed. Those that are not professionally facilitated more closely resemble self-help groups.
Support groups vary in their formats. Some are strictly supportive, while others might be strictly educational; still others might draw from elements of both.
The major advantage of face-to-face support groups is the warmth and closeness that can develop when people interact on a personal level. In addition, since face-to-face groups draw their participants from a specific geographic location, there is a familiarity that comes from shared community experiences that can strengthen bonds among participants.
The drawbacks of face-to-face groups include the fact that you are limited by whether or not there is a group in your area. Moreover, even if there is a group accessible to you, there may be difficulties in physically getting to where the group meets and making time in your schedule to attend the group.
We maintain a nationwide listing of brain tumor support groups, cancer groups that welcome brain tumor survivors, caregiver/spouse support groups and grief (bereavement) support groups. To locate a support group in your area, click here to view a list of support groups by state, or call our CareLine at (800) 886-2282 to speak with one of our licensed health care professionals or email us at ABTACares@abta.org.