Support Group FAQ's

Questions you may ask about Support Groups

Why are support groups offered?

Living with cancer can be one of washington-square-park
the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. For patients as well as family and caregivers, life can be profoundly impacted.

We have found that support groups help many people cope with the emotional aspects of cancer by providing a safe place to share their feelings and challenges. They also allow people to learn from others facing similar situations while offering mutual encouragement.


What kinds of support groups are available at the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital?

We have designed several different support groups for our patients, caregivers, and family members.   Example groups include:

Other group experiences are offered throughout the year.  These group experiences may include groups that gather around guided life review, holistic living, parenting, etc. If you have interest in being part of a particular kind of support group, please let us know.  We will post new groups as they become available on the Calendar.


Why participate in a Support Group?

We have found that support group participation offers many opportunities for our patients and caregivers:

  • allows people to talk about their experiences with others living with cancer, which can help reduce stress
  • group members can share feelings and experiences that may seem too strange or too difficult to share with family and friends
  • group dynamics often create a sense of belonging that helps each person feel more understood and less alone
  • group members may also discuss practical information…like what to expect during treatment, how to manage pain and other side effects of treatment, and how to communicate with health care providers and family members
  • group sessions give participants a safe place to share hopes, fears, joys, challenges, and ‘real time’ experiences of living with cancer with others who are doing the same

What do I need to know about the Caring for the Caregiver (CCG) Support Group?

Our support groups are open attendance to newcomers each week.  Group sessions generally run for 8-10 weeks and tend to follow the season of the year (Winter, Spring, Summer,  Fall). We take a brief break before we begin the next session. We welcome attendees to drop in, stay a while, and come back whenever their health, need, life schedule allows.

get-attachment-1-aspx_2These support groups are designed to give a confidential place for attendees to discuss issues related to their experience in living with cancer as a patient or as a caregiver . The goal of the group is to afford individuals the opportunity to encourage others, and be encouraged, as they attempt to live in meaningful ways while also coping with the impact of cancer on their lives.

It is important to us that you come into the group knowing a few things about our structure:

  • While we hope group participants will attend as often as possible, we also understand that the nature of life and complications may make regular attendance difficult. This is a no judgment zone! Simply come as often as you are able.
  • Our group is not a therapy group, but rather a support group focused on both coping with cancer and the enhancement of life. We become each other’s teacher and companion in the journey of living. We ask that we each listen carefully to each other.
  • If participants need more support than the group time affords, please know that as part of the Joan Karnell Supportive Care Program you are entitled to have 12 individual counseling sessions. If you would wish to learn more about this or schedule an appointment, please call Gyrid Lyon, Ph.D at 215-829-7343.
    • Group participants can receive counseling as well as attend the Support Groups.
  • Part of each weekly meeting consists of a brief guided meditation and group sharing. During this time participants are invited to discuss personal experiences, goals, successes and struggles.
  • Participants will understand that all information shared is strictly confidential.
  •  The facilitators will be sure that everyone that wishes to share has the opportunity to do so.
  • The groups are coordinated by Samantha Null, MSS, LCSW.  The facilitators of our groups are staff members working with post doctoral psychologists who rotate yearly. Our coordinators may always been reached between sessions.
  • Group members may exchange phone numbers and emails at the discretion of each member.