If you have received a difficult diagnosis, you may feel like you are alone in a sea of information and decisions without a life raft. My first advice to you is not to try to go it alone! No matter what diagnosis you received, there are other people in the world who have the same thing. Every one of them started right where you are – confused and afraid. And many of them will be happy to share their journey with you as you learn about your condition and explore your options for treatment.
Statistics show that people do better overall and heal faster when they have the support of a group of people in a similar situation. So I recommend building your support network by starting with people you can relate to. You need to find people who have the same condition who can talk to you on your level – patient to patient. One great place to find those people is by checking out support groups. Depending on where you live, you may find a group meeting just down the street, or you may need to turn to the internet.
Support groups typically include people ranging from those who were just diagnosed with a condition to those who have survived and thrived through treatment. Many people who have moved on with their lives continue to participate in support groups because they find that sharing their journey and helping others through the process is an important part of their own healing.
My friend and fellow health advocate Pat Elliott is a perfect example of this. Pat has a rare type of leukemia that was difficult to treat. She explained to me that helping others with their condition was an important part of her healing process. Pat says, “One of the best things you can do if you are diagnosed with a serious medical condition is to connect with others. Through online support groups, you can quickly meet others who can serve as mentors, sounding boards, resources and more.”
When Pat was diagnosed with cancer, she lived in a community with limited access to the kinds of specialists she needed. She was able to build an online resource group of fellow patients around the world who helped her explore her treatment options.