Level 2: Connection with Others

Until recently, the idea that support groups and connection with others could have profound effects on the comfort and physiologic status of cancer patients would have been dismissed out of hand. Can the simple act of sitting down and sharing with other people who also face the stresses and challenges associated with cancer really have a significant impact on a patient's quality of life?

Numerous studies in the medical literature have shown -- beyond question -- that such is the case. Something remarkable happens when people share their thoughts and feelings with others who are able to understand and empathize from their own personal experience with this disease.

For example, biological studies have shown that participation in a support group can result in a clear increase in various immune system functions, including natural killer-cell activity and other system benefits. Group members have also reported an enhancement in their general sense of well-being, with a decrease in the sense of isolation that often accompanies a serious disease.

Extremely valuable and helpful information is often shared and exchanged between group members, and the bonding that occurs can be profound. Studies also show that participating patients can significantly reduce their levels of pain and treatment side effects, with a corresponding improvement in their overall quality of life. Even more remarkably, when patients participate in group programs their family members report improvement in their own quality of life as well.

Thus, taking time to reach out and connect with others on the cancer journey -- through support groups, educational programs, and a variety of other means -- is a second, vital step in The Seven Levels of Healing.

"True listening is love in action."
             -M. Scott Peck


Next: Level 3: The Body as Garden



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