A cancer diagnosis can be a stressful and sometimes lonely experience. Although your friends and family mean well, they may not understand what you’re going through.

As you start on treatment and adjust to a new normal, you may want to consider joining a support group for people with multiple myeloma. Meeting others who know exactly what you’re experiencing can help you feel less alone and might put you more at ease.

Read on to learn more about support groups and how to find the right one for you.

What are support groups?

Support groups are gatherings where people with the same health condition or other issue meet to talk about their feelings and worries. They also discuss which treatments and coping methods helped them, and which ones didn’t.

Some support groups have a specific focus — for example, women or teens with multiple myeloma. Others are more broad, like groups for people with blood cancers in general.

Support groups are held at hospitals, community centers, churches, over the phone, and online. Some groups are led by a moderator like a social worker, psychologist, or counselor with expertise on the condition. Other groups are member-led.

Where to find a multiple myeloma support group

The doctor who treats your cancer is your best resource when you begin looking for a support group. Many cancer hospitals and clinics offer support programs to their patients.

Here are a few other ways to find support groups:

  • Call a multiple myeloma or general cancer organization (see below).
  • Ask a social worker at the doctor’s office or hospital that treats your cancer.
  • Talk to other people with your type of cancer.
  • Search online.

Foundation support groups

Several multiple myeloma organizations offer a variety of online and in-person support groups to help members cope with their diagnosis. Here are a few of the biggest foundations.

International Myeloma Foundation (IMF)

IMF is the world’s largest organization devoted to this type of cancer. It has more than 525,000 members in 140 countries around the world.

Along with funding research and educating the public about multiple myeloma, IMF hosts 150 support groups throughout the United States. To find a group in your area, visit the organization’s support groups page and enter your city/state or zip code.

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)

This nonprofit offers a variety of support for people who’ve been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, including links to treatment centers, financial assistance, and patient education programs. It also has a directory of support groups on its website, organized by state.

American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is a resource for people with all types of cancer, including multiple myeloma. On the organization’s resources page, enter your zip code, choose the multiple myeloma support program, and click “find resources.” The site will bring up a list of support groups in your area.

ASCO.Net

The American Society of Clinical Oncology has an educational website that covers all types of cancer. It has a page of support groups, organized and searchable by cancer type.

Online groups

The internet is a good place to find information and community. Going online for support may be a good option if you live in a rural area, you prefer to remain anonymous, or you don’t feel well enough to attend an in-person group.

Examples of online multiple myeloma groups are:

Facebook also hosts a number of multiple myeloma support groups. Many of these groups are closed or private, so you’ll have to request an invitation.

CancerCare

This cancer support organization has been around since the early 1940s. It offers free services to help people manage the challenges of living with cancer, along with a general blood cancers support group and a multiple myeloma support group online.

Is a support group right for me?

 Whether you’ll benefit from a support group depends on how comfortable you are talking about yourself and your cancer. If you want to be an active participant and get the most out of your group, you’ll need to reveal at least some details of your situation.

To help you find the group that best suits your personality, ask to sit in on a session. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Does the group meet at a convenient location for you?
  • Do the timing and frequency of meetings work with your schedule?
  • Would you prefer the anonymity of an online group to an in-person one?
  • Would you like to be part of a large group or a small group?
  • Is everyone around the same age as you?
  • Does everyone actively participate? Will they mind if you stay quiet?
  • Does the group have a moderator? Do you like his or her style?

Takeaway

You don’t have to feel alone in living with multiple myeloma. Reach out to people who understand your situation by joining an online or in-person support group. Taking part in one of these groups could help improve your quality of life and your outlook.