Social support is an important aspect of everyday life, and it can make a particularly big difference when you are going through something difficult, such as a cancer diagnosis. For many years, social support has been recognized to have a significant impact on the general well-being of someone experiencing a life threatening illness. Research has indicated that it can help people adjust and cope with their illness, enhancing their quality of life . Additionally, social support has been found to be helpful in:
- developing effective coping strategies to manage fears and challenges;
- expanding opportunities for information sharing;
- alleviating anxiety around treatment related decision making; and,
- helping with overall day to day stress .
Sometimes it can be hard to reach out. Perhaps you feel that you’re depending too much on others  or you’re uncomfortable with not knowing exactly what to ask for. However, after reading about a few of the many ways to quickly and easily access support, perhaps any hesitation you might have to get connected will start to fade away.
It’s common for people with cancer to have a number of people supporting them in different capacities . For example, you may turn to a spouse or close friend for emotional support, a healthcare professional for informational support, and perhaps a neighbour to help with practical support such as transportation or childcare. Through your association with InspireHealth you may have found social support through their weekly support groups through Tyze Personal Networks. At such a challenging time, reaching out beyond your existing support network, whether that network be big or small, can sometimes give you the extra boost you need as you go through your cancer experience. Read on to learn about some of the free support services available through the Canadian Cancer Society.
CancerConnection is one of the many free support services offered through the Canadian Cancer Society. This program connects people recently diagnosed with any type of cancer with trained volunteers who have gone through a similar cancer experience. Sometimes, speaking with someone who has been there can make all the difference. These connections can be ongoing for as long as they are helpful to the person diagnosed with cancer, as they move through their diagnosis and treatment. Support from a CancerConnection volunteer can have a strong impact. People share feedback such as their volunteer was “just what I needed to help with the aloneness I was feeling; she gave me a remarkable sense of hope and self worth” and that the volunteers “understood, were honest and compassionate, good listeners, and they never minimized my experience.”
Some people also shared a sense of relief having a source of emotional support outside of their existing network; someone who was non-judgemental and could objectively listen to whatever was on their mind, sometimes taking the pressure off family. CancerConnection is available to anyone over the age of 18 who is diagnosed with cancer.
CancerConnection.ca is an online community where you can share experiences and develop supportive relationships with others who have been there. Members find the community a helpful way to connect, get information and find support. Join a discussion group, start a blog to share your story with others, and respond to posts others have made.
The Cancer Information Service is available to patients, their families, healthcare professionals, and the general public. This program offers reliable information tailored to each caller’s unique needs and may include topics related to cancer treatment and side effects, clinical trials, coping with cancer, and help in the community. This includes information on community programs such as:
- online and in-person social supports;
- transportation services;
- financial support programs;
- counselling services; and,
- where to find a wig or prosthesis.
Have a question? Give them a call. You’d be surprised what a difference it can make to have someone there to help navigate throughout your cancer experience. You can also check out their Community Services Locator online.