Jerry, We had a bit of a drama with local support groups and it made us retreat somewhat from them..this would be my longest post for a while!
We read the literature of the local support group, got a recommendation from someone, spoke to 2 men on the phone, and also investigated a younger man's (<55 yrs to qualify) phone support group. As the wife of a survivor (and a nurse), I thought it was all good and had potential, UNTIL I spoke to three of the facilitators (My husband left it to me to organise - he was a bit non plussed on it all in the first place). One person (the phone facilitator), did not have cancer and never had, so he and his group was immediately ruled out for that alone. We later got an invitation to participate in a research project about
the very group which we did not end up joining, and then 2 futher surveys to evaluate the group we never joined! I kept them to post back one day with a letter of complaint (Haven't done it of course). When I spoke to this phone facilitator (the one without cancer), he told me my hubby would have to join up by phone for a few meetings first, to see if he was a "good fit" for the group. When I asked him what exactly a "good fit" was he said, " Well.. there are several men in the group who could be dying at the moment, who might like to discuss what this is like for them. How would your husband feel about
that if it was his first meeting and introduction to these men?" I told him my husband would probably be traumatised and overwhelmed to hear this sort of initial news of his fellow members in a support group, so maybe the "fit" between hubby and his phone group would not match anyway, and the whole idea perhaps NOT be so helpful after all? .... Yes, the approach of moderators and facilitators is interesting, and we can't be around people who are negative - so that option not work for us.
The local support group on the other hand, was a face-to-face group we investigated. It was described as a mixed group - women, men and children (with a few separate meeting times for the men). My hubby too was told he would have been the youngest in the group, and personally I don't know why this was even a factor which had to be pointed out. He already had reasoned out that he would probably be younger than most. As a shy man however, this freaked him out to be singled out.
So we did not join in the end, and then did not discuss it with anyone else for more than 2 years....I am not sure that was a good strategy either, as I have since found quite a few people (on-line) who would now be classified as "our" support group, and also a colleague at work, who now has had the same thing. All in all, we did not seek out any further support groups, but part of that was a 3 year denial that it was happening to us in the first place! However, now it is yesterday, and there do seem to be good groups around, but in my opinion they (support groups) need to be separate for males and partners (not mixed unless it is a social, and not a health information group), and the facilitator absolutely needs to have experienced with the condition, and be a survivor. Some of the groups described here sound great. And, others sound as depressing as we found them to be, and as a result never attended past the initial enquiries. I guess in answer to your question then Jerry (long-winded as it is), shop around a little more than we did, and you may just hit the jackpot with finding a good support group which suits you - either in person, by phone or other technology, or even email...We thought age was a factor but its not - it is the attitude so the mix of age of the group should be irrelevant if that is of any help! Hope it is. cheers & good luck, Lana
Creed_three - Husband 51 yrs (49 years at diagnosis)