Many support groups meet weekly but we found that meeting twice a month is preferable because of the fatigue that people living with cancer often face. We meet from 7:00PM until 8:30PM. We try to be very careful about ending on time, again because of fatigue problems for many group participants. People often stay and talk after the group, but ending on time allows those who need to leave the opportunity to do so.
We begin our group meeting with an informal time of socializing, getting coffee and tea and greeting each other. By 7:10 or 7:15 we find our way to the seats, which are arranged in a circle. We use the following meeting format:
- Reading of statement of purpose, group rules and verse (see below)
- Opening prayer
- Reading aloud the topic for the month
- Sharing based on the provided questions
- Sharing personal updates and prayer requests
One of the group leaders welcomes the group and acknowledges any one who is new or who has returned after an absence. The leader then reads the statement of purpose and the group rules and opens in prayer. We then go around the circle, introducing ourselves by name and stating if we have cancer or if we are present as a support person.
We then turn our attention to the topic for the evening. The topics we use for the group are in three categories:
- Living with Strong Feelings
- Challenges to Faith
- Changing Perspectives
In total there are twenty five topics. Since each topic includes questions or activities for two sessions, this represents more than two years worth of material for a group which only uses one ‘topic’ per month.
You can work your way straight through the topics as presented here, or you can jump around between the various topics. Because cancer brings such a variety of challenges, it might be the most helpful to jump around, depending on what your group seems to need at the time.
We focus on only one topic each month. We discuss it at both of the monthly meetings. One of the leaders, or a volunteer, reads the material on a topic and then asks the discussion questions. We allow the discussion to continue until about 7:45 pm. We then ask people to update us on what is going on in their lives so that we can pray for each other.
At about 8:20 or 8:25 we hold hands around the circle and spend time praying for each other. Sometimes this is an open prayer time when anyone can pray, sometimes one of the leaders will close in prayer. Some nights we break the group up at 8:00PM into two groups (people with cancer and support people) for separate times of sharing and prayer.
TLC Statement of Purpose
TLC is a group of people who have had a diagnosis of cancer or who have a family member or friend who has had a diagnosis of cancer. We share together the often difficult process of coping with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Our basic purpose is to support each other spiritually and emotionally so that we can live each day to its fullest.
TLC is not a medical clinic, a hospice program, or a group of experts who offer advice on the treatment of cancer. We are a group of people who are eager to listen, to share our own struggles and joys and to pray for each other.
TLC Group Rules
TLC follows a few basic group rules:
- Anything shared within the group is considered confidential and we agree not to share anything outside of the group unless specific permission is given to do so.
- We will provide time for each person to share if they feel comfortable doing so.
- We will talk about ourselves and our own situations and experiences, avoiding conversation about other people or about abstract ideas.
- We will listen attentively to each other and will be very cautious about giving advice.
- We will pray for each other.
TLC Theme Verse
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
II Corinthians 1:3,4