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Support From Others Who Have Had Cancer

Talking with another person (peer) with cancer may help you see how others have coped with the illness. Others are often eager to help, and they may have valuable information to share. These support services can occur in groups or in one-to-one sessions. If you don't want to attend group sessions, a personal, one-on-one meeting may be helpful.

HOW PEER SUPPORT SERVICES CAN HELP

  1. Offer help with specific questions about resources (for example, types of prostheses available following breast-cancer surgery).

  2. Provide information about ways to cope with the diagnosis and treatment from someone who has "been there."

  3. Help you to realize that many people survive cancer and lead highly productive lives despite the illness.

HOW DO YOU FIND THESE SERVICES

  1. Talk with your doctor, nurse, or social worker about whether your hospital has such a program. Hospitals with organized peer-support programs also provide training programs for peer counselors so that they know how to be most helpful to those seeking this kind of help.

  2. Hospitals and your local American Cancer Society unit often arrange for visits. The ACS "Reach to Recovery" program is an example of such a peer-support group for women with breast cancer. Local units offer one-to-one patient visitation plus information about prostheses. Units usually offer programs on reconstruction, lumpectomy, breast- prostheses-fitting sessions and group support programs.

  3. "CanSurmount" is another American Cancer Society program. "CanSurmount" is a self-help program in which people who have recovered from cancer are available to talk with those newly diagnosed about cancer-related problems and treatments.

  4. Call your local ACS unit to help you connect with another person who has gone through the cancer experience. In addition to visitation programs for women with mastectomies, such programs are also often available for people with ostomies or laryngectomies.

HELPFUL HINTS

  • Support from others who have had cancer is not the same as professional counseling. At different times during your illness, one type of help will be more useful than another. If group or individual meetings with another person with cancer do not help, consider talking with a professional cancer counselor.

  • If your community does not have a program that links people with cancer, ask your doctor to arrange for you to talk with someone who has coped well with the illness.




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