Lymphoma

Other sources of support

It can be encouraging to meet other people who have been through lymphoma and hear about their experiences. One man had had a neighbour who had been through lymphoma treatment and seemed to be leading a normal life, and a woman was pleased to find that an acquaintance was well three years after treatment. Some people said that they enjoyed the camaraderie at the hospital and made friends with their fellow patients. A young man joined a youth club and went on a holiday in Ireland for young people with cancer, which opened his mind and made him stronger.

Some people found counselling beneficial. A woman had attended a group counselling session during her treatment and learned about other people's coping mechanisms. After her treatment she joined a local support group, which helped her cope with the sudden loss of regular contact with health professionals; she ended up running the group. It was common for people to join support groups only after finishing treatment because they had felt too unwell to attend earlier, but one woman hoped that some people still in treatment might join her group and be helped by hearing other people's experiences. A woman who had not yet had any treatment (see 'Watch and wait') also attended a support group regularly, but said she did so mainly from a sense of duty to the organisers. 

Self-help or support groups can help many people, especially those who live alone or who cannot talk about their feelings with those around them. However, several people had attended one or two meetings but had not wanted to go again, or had felt no need once they returned to their normal life. 

Some people were put off if they felt that other group members were much older than themselves. Some did not want to hear negative stories or risk becoming upset by talking about their illness. A man who had attended a support group meeting during 'watch and wait' hadn't enjoyed hearing about the experiences of sick people so never went again. Another didn't like the meetings being held in the hospital where he was treated; he would have preferred an informal setting such as a pub, and would have preferred not to have to travel 25 miles to the group. One group started in a hospital setting but the members decided to meet for lunch in pubs or each other's houses instead. Others said they didn't need a support group because they had enough support from family and friends, or had faith in the professionals who were treating them. Some people had never been told about a local support group and did not know if one existed in their area.

Some areas have drop-in centres for people with cancer. One woman attended drop-in sessions and had various complementary therapies at a local cancer support centre. One man had been recommended a local hospice day centre but he didn't want to meet other people with lymphoma, preferring to just get on with his treatment. A woman who did attend her local hospice day centre stopped going because she didn't like it.

Local support groups were often run by a national charity such as the Lymphoma Association (see 'Resources' section), and some people became members, obtained written information (see 'Knowledge and information') or attended national meetings where doctors talked about treatment and they met other people with lymphoma. A man diagnosed six years ago had cancelled his subscription, feeling that the illness was now behind him. One woman phoned a national charity for advice about vaginal dryness (see 'Roles, relationships and sexuality') and another gained support by talking to a volunteer at a national charity's local centre. A man who had finished his treatment won a national competition about how young people coped with cancer and wished he'd known about the charity earlier when his needs had been greater. A few people had been introduced to someone else with lymphoma via a national charity's 'buddy' scheme and some had become buddies themselves. 

Another source of support for some people was religious faith or spirituality. Several gained comfort from prayers or knowing that others were praying for them. One man recited a daily prayer that opened with 'thank you for this day'. A woman said that she repeated no specific mantras but spent time quietly concentrating on the energy within her. Some said they trusted God to look after them; one man said his strength of faith helped him through difficult times. A man who said he wasn't very religious said his illness had stimulated a spiritual rediscovery and he now led a less selfish life.

 

Last reviewed February 2016.

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