Support Tools: How a Support Group Can Help You

What is a brain tumour support group?

A brain tumour support group is a group of two or more people with a common desire to come together to share experiences, feelings and concerns around a brain tumour diagnosis.

At Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, Adult Brain Tumour Support Groups are open to anyone affected by the disease, including patients, survivors, caregivers, family members and friends.


What is the purpose of a brain tumour support group?

The diagnosis of a brain tumour is often unexpected, life changing and traumatic. As a result, it is not uncommon for newly diagnosed patients to experience a wide range of emotions such as confusion, bewilderment, anger, fear and denial.

The primary purpose of a brain tumour support group is to provide an opportunity for brain tumour patients, survivors, their families, friends and caregivers to share their experiences, address personal issues, and offer each other emotional support.

Many people find that talking about their brain tumour journey and connecting with others in a similar situation helps to normalize the experience and emphasizes that they are not alone.


What are the goals of a support group?

While the specific goals of each brain tumour support group may vary, most generally aim to:

  • Provide peer support to individuals and families affected by a brain tumour
  • Help members develop a sense of control over the illness and the ability to cope
  • Reduce feelings of isolation
  • Create and provide a safe, non-judgmental, confidential and non-threatening environment
  • Help build confidence and improve self-esteem
  • Aid members in expanding their personal support systems


How are support groups beneficial?

Support groups can be seen as a mutually beneficial aid system in which the people in the group lean on one another. Support groups are helpful to anyone affected by a brain tumour by providing:


It is important that survivors and their families are able to maintain a sense of optimism about their diagnosis. Support groups provide hope through encouragement, empowerment and hearing about positive experiences of others.


Participating in a support group can decrease the sense of isolation often experienced by people affected by a brain tumour. By attending a support group, members are given the opportunity to share their experience with others in a similar situation and realize they are not alone in their struggle.


Exchange of Information 
Group members can provide practical information for other brain tumour patients regarding diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. This can reduce the anxiety often associated with the diagnosis and late-effects of a brain tumour, while members also have an opportunity to share ideas around what has helped them along the way.


Through support groups, members have a chance to help and be helped. Individuals gain a sense of positive self-worth that comes from the ability to give back and assist others.


Through sharing their experiences with others and gaining knowledge and confidence, support group members regain a sense of control over their lives and affirm that they are the experts of their own brain tumour journey. This helps brain tumour survivors feel increasingly empowered and less hopeless about their diagnosis.


It helps to know you are not alone and to talk to others who have pulled through. A support group can offer a place for people to accept their situation in order to move forward with their lives the best way possible.


The expression of feelings can be therapeutic. Group members learn to be honest about their feelings and discover that catastrophe or judgment does not necessarily follow, as they may have feared. Members can find that a support group is a safe place to express their feelings without overburdening their loved ones.


Coping Skills
It is important that brain tumour patients, survivors and their families adopt coping mechanisms that are effective, healthy and empowering. Through resource gathering and connecting with others, support groups can help people learn and optimize coping skills that will assist them through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.


Is a brain tumour support group right for you?

There are many beneficial reasons for attending a brain tumour support group; however, sometimes based on individual differences and preferences they may not be a good fit. The best way to decide if a support group is right for you is to attend a meeting. It can be helpful to bring a loved one with you for extra support. Keep in mind that you are not obligated to reveal your identity or contribute to the discussion. Listening to others can be encouraging and informative to help you decide if membership right for you.



This article was provided by Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Support Services Specialist. To contact a member of the Support Services team, please call 1-800-265-5106.


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