CANCER CAN BE a terrifying disease and patients often feel overwhelmed and alone when they are first diagnosed with it. Fortunately there are a variety of resources and self-support groups in Hong Kong. For many, the main source of information is the CancerLink Support and Resources Centre ( www.cancer-fund.org ; 2323 7663), a branch of the Hong Kong Cancer Fund. It primarily serves as a social information centre where patients can find information about cancer and therapies. It also provides counselling services and organises seminars to help patients during their recovery. In addition, it gives assistance to 14 self-support groups under the umbrella of the Friends of CancerLink. Wong Kam-fung, who runs the Centre, said helping Hong Kong's numerous support groups was one of its major functions. 'Only people who have faced similar problems can understand patients' feelings. We could never do what they do. Through helping others the volunteers gain a sense of achievement, which helps them recover too. 'Some patients are so depressed after the diagnosis that they can hardly leave home. When that happens they worry too much and often feel very lonely. 'But being in a group and talking to other sufferers helps them transform their experience into positive energy. It diverts their attention and allows them to rediscover the beauty of life.' Cansurvive (2328 2202) is a support group that was set up especially to serve English-speaking cancer patients and their families. They hold regular meetings at the Mariner's Club in Tsim Sha Tsui. The New Horizon Club of Hong Kong ( www.hknhc . org; 2868 1565) and New Creation Club (2321 7739), which were established in 1989 and 1995 respectively, are two of the biggest support groups in Hong Kong. They serve all cancer patients and their families. New Horizon now has more than 2,500 members and New Creation more than 1,000. They provide support and information about cancer, conduct visits to hospitals and homes, offer counselling, hold group sharing sessions and organise recreational activities and classes. Some support groups cater to patients suffering from a specific type of cancer so that patients can meet other people who are facing similar problems. Hong Kong Adult Blood Cancer Group (2603 6869) serves leukaemia and lymphoma patients, Sun Flower Group (2320 4123) serves breast and gynaecological cancer patients, the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation ( www.hkbcf.org ; 2525 6033) offers care and support for breast cancer patients and their families, while Kin Lok Club ( www.kinlokclub.com ; 2320 0795) serves nasopharynx cancer patients. There are also support groups that serve patients with special needs. The New Voice Club of Hong Kong ( www.newvoice . org.hk; 2779 0400) helps larynx cancer patients whose voice boxes have been surgically removed. In addition to regular services they organise voice rehabilitation classes and help buy and lend voice rehabilitation equipment. Hong Kong Stoma Association ( www.stoma.org.hk ; 2834 6096) serves colorectal cancer patients with stomas and hold health talks especially designed for stomal patients. Aside from the groups belonging to the Friends of CancerLink, there is also the Children's Cancer Foundation Family Service Centre ( www.ccf.org.hk ; 2328 8323), which mainly serves children from birth to 18 years old. The foundation was one of the first voluntary agencies to introduce 'playwork' in its service programmes. Ada Yuen, a clinical psychologist with the Children's Cancer Foundation, said children needed more care psychologically than adults. 'Children are not like adults developmentally. 'Many of them are not mature enough to understand why they have to go through the difficult and painful treatments. 'By playing with them in a certain way we teach them how to cope with the pain and stress and how to be emotionally prepared for the treatments. It also provides an outlet for their feelings.' Playwork is arranged regularly at the service centre. It can also be arranged at patients' homes when the need arises. Pharmaceutical company Roche Hong Kong sponsors a website ( www.2ecancer.com ) offering information in Chinese on preventing and treating cancer. The group also organises seminars.