Having cancer changes your life and the lives of those around you. Many different services and programs now lend support to cancer patients and their families throughout their entire course of treatment and beyond. From understanding a specific cancer diagnosis to navigating a treatment and recovery plan to finding emotional support and assistance, help is available. You don’t have to go through this alone. And thanks to the Internet, more people can access the critical information and cancer support services they need.
People facing cancer need current, reliable information in order to understand their disease and make informed decisions about their health. The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society both provide trusted information on the specifics of the different types of cancer, as well as various treatment options, clinical trials, managing side effects finding support and much more. Talk About Health is another site that provides relevant, helpful, and accurate health answers and information from experts performing the research and caring for patients every day
Support Groups and Communities
Support groups for cancer patients, caregivers and loved ones are available throughout the country- in person, online and even via phone. Oftentimes, sharing feelings and hearing from others who have experienced and are experiencing something similar can give people hope and show them that they aren’t alone.
The Cancer Support Community has local programs throughout the country. I Had Cancer is an online social support network that helps people deal with life before, during, and after cancer. ColonTown is another great example of an online community where people who suffer from colorectal cancer can come and talk to someone or find more information about their condition. Colorectal diseases aren’t something most people talk about easily but having a place like ColonTown breaks down those barriers and really allows a patient to talk freely and confidently with people sharing the same experience.
Patient Navigators and Social Workers
Patient navigators and social workers provide personal guidance to patients as they move through the health care system.
At CancerCare, you can connect with professional oncology social workers, free of charge, that provide support, information and resources to help you better cope with cancer. The Navigate Cancer Foundation also provides free, expert, confidential cancer care navigation services to those touched by this disease.
Peer Mentoring Programs
Even if you have a supportive group of friends and family, many people facing a cancer diagnosis want to connect with someone has been in the same place they are now. Such connections allow people to ask questions that no one could answer besides a survivor and to show that it is possible to beat this disease.
Organizations like Imerman Angels, The 4th Angel Program which is part of the Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative and Cancer Hope Network connect cancer patients and caregivers with others who have undergone and recovered from a similar cancer experience.
Camps and Retreats
Like the Southwest commercials, sometimes you just gotta get away. Cancer camps and retreats not only connect you with other people who have faced cancer, but they give you the opportunity to have fun and take a break from cancer. Programs vary from week-long day and overnight camps to weekend or several day excursions and getaways. Some programs are designed for children with cancer and their families, while others focus primarily on adults.
First Descents is one of my favorite camps- they provide young adult cancer fighters and survivors – ages 18-40 with an outdoor adventure experience where they can learn to kayak, rock climb or surf to regain the confidence and self-efficacy that may have been lost to cancer. All meals, accommodations and program activities are provided free of charge, including travel scholarships, when needed.
With so many cancer support services available it is really important to have a place where all of these resources can be accessed easily. This is why CancerHawk has developed its own CancerHawk Navigator. This new navigator is extensive but easy to use, you are only required to put down your zip code and diagnosis then you can search for resources. Currently you can choose from categories like Living Expenses, College Scholarships, Clinical Trial information and so much more.
With the launch of the CancerHawk Navigator we are hoping to help all of our readers and anyone else who needs some guidance throughout their cancer journey.