Indigenous Cancer Sharing Circle
Indigenous adults living with cancer and their caregivers.
The Indigenous Cancer Sharing Circle is a monthly gathering for Indigenous adults living with cancer and caregivers. The goal of this program is to create a safe space in which to welcome all Nations across the province to connect, share experiences, and build a caring and supportive community. With a vision to ensure no one has to face cancer alone, this circle of sharing is co-led by an Elder and a Wellspring program leader.
“The Indigenous Sharing Circle has been absolutely unbelievable – a life-changer for me. As we are sharing our stories or experiences, we know it’s a safe space, everything is kept confidential. To hear other people share their challenges or issues is comforting. It reaffirms that you are not in this scary situation by yourself.” -Donna Ouellette, Wellspring member
Benefits and Impact
In this caring group environment, members are invited to share their experiences if they choose, or to listen to the experiences of others. Often times, both the expression of feelings, and the process of listening can ease the emotional stress of having cancer or being a caregiver. Members report feeling less isolated, better understood, and more comfortable sharing authentically with others on a similar path. Some have commented they receive great benefit from connecting with others who are also experiencing cancer, and they appreciate the opportunity to speak about their own experiences.
The presence of an Elder in the group, who offers prayers at the beginning and the end, gives added comfort and support to participants. Elders offer connection to Indigenous culture, clarity, wisdom and insights during the sharing circle. Members have expressed gratitude for the presence of an Elder to create “sacred space” in which to have these important conversations.
What to Expect at a Session
Sessions begin and end with an Elder offering prayers. The program leader opens with a brief explanation of the purpose of the group, then proposes a question to begin the conversation. All participants are invited to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings or just listen if this feels right. In some instances, the program leader and Elder may provide suggestions and information about additional resources that may be helpful.
What the Research Says
For more on the benefits of group support, click to read: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19538801