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CancerCare Online Support Groups Offer Convenience, Confidentiality and Flexibility

Free online counseling allows patients and caregivers to get the support they need, whenever they need it

New York, December 8, 2006--CancerCare's online support groups are attracting an increasing number of people who find that they are a convenient and effective alternative to more traditional, face-to-face or telephone support groups. Led by professional oncology social workers, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, CancerCare's online groups allow people with cancer and their loved ones to reap the benefits of connecting with others without requiring them to travel to meetings or commit to a regular schedule.

"Like everyone else, people with cancer and their loved ones are using the Internet more and more as a means of empowerment," says Richard Hara, Ph.D., LCSW, CancerCare's director of online services. "Online groups are virtual communities of education and support, helping people to share resources they might not have access to otherwise."

While there are many online groups available, CancerCare's are unique in that they are facilitated by a professional oncology social worker, Hara adds. "Our social workers are a safety net for the group. When people in the group struggle--either as part of the group or individually--our moderators are there to intervene. Moderators provide professional help directly and through the many other support services available through CancerCare."

Online counseling is an appealing option for those whose treatment schedules and side effects may prevent them from attending regular in-person meetings. Caregivers, too, whose responsibilities often keep them from making time to address their own needs, find the flexibility of online counseling an effective way of reaching out and connecting with others who share similar experiences and concerns.

One of the first organizations to offer online support groups, CancerCare started its program in 1996. Today, CancerCare offers more than 20 online support groups for people facing various cancer diagnoses, as well as groups for teenagers and people who have lost a loved one to cancer. Like all Cancer_Care _services, its online support groups are offered completely free of charge.

Hara discusses the benefits of online support groups in this month's "Ask CancerCare," our new monthly feature in which CancerCare experts answer your most pressing questions.

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