Cancer patient support group at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital provides a setting in which cancer patients can talk about living with cancer with others who may be having similar experiences. Although the experience of people diagnosed with cancer varies greatly from one person to another, they all need a good support system in order to cope throughout the different stages of the process. Apart from having to cope with the physical and medical challenges, people with cancer face many worries, feelings, and concerns unique to their situation. Cancer patients may find they need help coping with the emotional as well as the practical aspects of their disease. In fact, attention to the emotional burden of having cancer is often a part of a patient's treatment plan. The support of the health care team (doctors, nurses, social workers), support groups, and patient-to-patient networks can help people feel less isolated and distressed, and improve the quality of their lives. More importantly cancer support groups can provide access to the most current information regarding available treatments.
With the above aims in mind, the cancer patient support group was started at Kokilaben hospital in 2011. The group addresses patients suffering from any kind of cancer and currently being treated at Kokilaben Hospital. The group meeting is usually led by Dr. Sandeep Goyle (Consultant Medical Oncologist at Kokilaben Hospital) and takes place once every two months in the 7th floor meeting room of the hospital. It is usually attended by over 40 patients and their relatives. Each patient and / or their relative is given an opportunity to stand in front of others and share their personal experiences obtained during the course of diagnosis and treatment. They interact with the audience and discuss their individual disease and treatment related problems. They also get an opportunity to ask questions related to their health to Dr. Sandeep Goyle. This is followed by a talk on ‘Diet In Cancer’ which is delivered by a dietician from the hospital and also a talk on ‘Role Of Chemotherapy Specialist Nurse’ explaining the tasks performed by chemotherapy specialist nurses in the management of cancer patients.
The feedback forms completed by patients and their relatives at the end of the meeting suggest that patients really appreciate the chance to express their emotions in front of others, share their feelings and also realise that there are others in this world who are also suffering like them. They also get encouragement and hope after listening to patients who have undergone the treatment and have survived the illness. They get to exchange contact details of others for future discussions. Most of the misconceptions regarding the illness and the treatment are cleared during the sessions. All this leads to improvements in confidence, wellbeing, stress, and interpersonal comfort.