Joining a support group is a great opportunity to talk to others who understand what you’re going through. Some groups meet regularly for a chat and a cup of tea. Others get together over a mutual hobby to do something they love while sharing their support.
Ciara Lee and her husband Eddy set up Wave Walkers, a dragon boat team for people affected by cancer, in 2012. Both have family who’ve had cancer. The sport involves 20 people sitting in pairs paddling the boat in time.
The group is made up of people who’ve had cancer and their family members, as well as those who’ve lost someone, and is for all levels. Ciara says, ‘We work to the best of our abilities rather than being top-notch fit.’ The group trains on the water two Sundays every month, meeting at the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre in East London.
Members find taking part in the sport, and the increased fitness it brings, empowering. Ciara adds, ‘The water does something to people. It’s such a powerful form of therapy. Most people like to not talk about cancer and just paddle. Knowing people are on similar journeys is enough for them. However, friendships form and there is a support network.’
The group enjoyed a surge in numbers after its summer open day and looks for new members all the time.
Raising the rafters
Come and Sing is a choir for people affected by cancer. This includes those who’ve received a diagnosis, and their friends and relatives, people who’ve been given the all clear, and any who’ve lost loved ones.
The group meets every Tuesday evening in Brighton, with the focus being the pleasure of singing in the moment rather than performing. Julie Nye, the group’s founder and leader, says, ‘Everyone’s voice is welcome, important and contributes to the group sound. It’s a very special thing.’
The group is always on the lookout for new members. Julie says, ‘There’s a lot of camaraderie, welcome and acceptance. If people want to talk about cancer they can, but they don’t have to. There’s a knowledge that everyone’s going through something difficult. That shared understanding is supportive in itself.’