North Mississippi Medical Center revamping support group for cancer patients to reach more people

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – North Mississippi Medical Center’s Cancer Care in Tupelo is working to revamp its support group for cancer patients.

Known as the Cancer Journey, the group is open to current patients, their family members, caregivers and cancer survivors.

“Some of the patients that attend this support group are facing end of life, and it helps to share that with each other and have a friend walk through this with them,” says oncology social worker Jamie Grissom.

Staff with North Mississippi Medical Center’s Cancer Care want to make sure their patients do not feel alone.

“Cancer patients often have great support systems,” Grissom says. “With their family members, with church family, but sometimes they also did not feel like sharing more difficult feelings with family members. They want to be strong for them.”

Grissom and fellow oncology social worker Lauren Thompson oversee the support group so that patients have a space to share their feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.

“They actually help each other during this journey because they are all learning together,” Grissom says. “And they’re able to share what they’re going through and their experiences.”

The group meets on the third Tuesday of the month at the Cancer Center from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The next meeting on September 20th will be tailgate-themed to help encourage new members to attend. Patients are encouraged to wear jerseys or other gear from their favorite teams and will get to play some games and share a meal.

“While we want to incorporate getting to know each other and have this (meeting be) more lighthearted, we still want to be able to talk at that group about different things that are troubling our patients,” Thompson says.

Thompson says they are looking to get the word out to help build the group back up after COVID-19 put their meetings on hold.

“We lost some of our members that were coming, and that’s just how it worked with COVID,” she says. “So we’re trying to rebuild what we had prior to COVID and get more people back involved.”

As well as hear from patients about other ways for the support group to help.

“We can’t decide how to help somebody on our own,” Thompson says. “We have to know what they’re facing, what they’re feeling. We have to have input from our patients or else we’re not doing them justice.”

Grissom says that one of the things that they emphasize during group meetings is the importance of getting one’s feelings out, even if it’s just on paper.

She says they provide patients with journals where they can write what they’re experiencing if they don’t feel like sharing out loud.

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