Support Network – Who Should be in Yours?

Laura Cox, LPC
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
12/03/15  11:41 AM PST
Support Network

Chronic illness isn’t something anyone should face alone. It’s important to have a well-rounded support network of people who are willing and able to help. Different people in the network may provide different types of support.

What is a Support Network?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a Support Network is “A group of people who provide emotional and practical help to someone in difficulty.”

Practical Support Network

For practical support, turn to physicians and healthcare professionals you feel you can trust. It’s important to trust that the healthcare professionals will be responsive in a timely manner when you need assistance. This includes a general practitioner, any specialists you may need, surgeons, physical therapists, nurses, etc. Keep every part of your practical support system informed; try to facilitate continuity of care by sending medical test results to all physicians and keeping everyone updated on current medications, pain level, etc.

For minor concerns you may find practical support at support groups.

Emotional Support Network

Emotional support can be found from many different people.


Close family members are an easy place to start. Generally people feel most comfortable disclosing the most about their illnesses to family. They should offer unconditional love and emotional support. Don’t be afraid to tell your emotional supporters what you think you need from them.


It’s important to also include at least a handful of close friends in your emotional support network. You don’t have to tell them more than you’re comfortable disclosing, but it’s nice to have friends who are supportive and will understand if you have to cancel plans last minute or who will come over when you’re not feeling up to going anywhere. This way you won’t allow your illness to isolate you.

Support or Religious Groups

Finding a support group on or offline that feels like a good fit for you also will help you feel like you’re not alone. Find an ostomy support group near you HERE. Some people turn to religious groups for comfort when going through a rough patch.


Lastly, if you feel like you need professional support, finding a good therapist, preferably who specializes in chronic illness. He or she will be able to provide great ways to cope and grow from your experiences.

For more information, see related ostomy support and inspirational articles and resources here:

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1 comment

  1. I have had my Colostomy and urostomy since I was 17 I am now 54years old, I also have a kidney transplant since 1995 so I have had my first transplant for 27 urs and still doing well.
    I have had issues with my colostomy later in life due to scar tissue, so it is more a case of managing my issues.

    One word of advise for anyone,

    After bathing or showering,
    Dab with tissue and allow to air dry.
    I have found it helps to minimise skin irritation from the adhesive around the stoma/urostomy/illiostomy.

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