Sue’s Story of Help and Hope

September 25, 2014

Sue with and her children Emily and Andy

Sue began advocating for emotional support after her husband, Rob, advanced to stage 4 melanoma in 2009. He’d been at stage 3 for almost three years, long enough for his doctor to be optimistic and for the family to feel more confident about the future. The news, received in the emergency room where he’d been taken in response to a seizure, came as a huge blow. In the weeks and months that followed, Rob desperately wanted counseling to help him cope.

“I wish I’d known about CancerCare sooner,” said Sue. “I spent whole days identifying and taking Rob to psychologists within his health plan, but we found that none of them understood his emotional state.”

She was ultimately referred to CancerCare for her own support. “When I finally learned about the CancerCare phone and online caregiver support groups, I seized them like a lifeline and was rewarded with both coping skills and lifelong friendships.”

But Rob, by then very advanced, could not manage counseling by phone. When he passed away in 2010, Sue again sought out resources to help her and their children Emily and Andy, then ages six and three, process and heal through the difficult time. That’s when she learned the CancerCare New Jersey office was nearby. She says it was life-changing.

Sue began receiving in-person bereavement counseling. She and her children also attended the Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp, picnics, holiday parties and other activities.

Andy at CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp

“I think bereavement therapy is important for both the kids and the surviving spouse. The CancerCare family program was incredibly supportive for us. We benefited from group activities where we all shared our experiences and were guided by the counselors,” says Sue. “Emily told me several times it meant a lot that she could talk with and play with other kids who had also lost a parent. It was hard for her to interact with kids at school who didn’t understand, and she felt removed from them; different. I think it gave Andy words to express his loss in preschool.”

For families facing similar challenges, Sue suggests taking time to be together as a family and create special memories together. She also stresses the importance of managing the continuum of care, asking others for help when necessary, and having a sense of humor even during the hard times. “It’s critical to hang together as a family unit. At the same time, don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help and to accept it! And whenever things get stressful, try not to lose your sense of humor and perspective.”

“We have healed and grown, basking in the warmth and support of CancerCare’s wonderful, caring staff and the ability to share with other families in similar situations. CancerCare continues to be part of our lives as we move into a new role, drawing on our experiences to help other families embarking on this journey.”

In Rob’s honor, Sue formed Team Chevrier to raise critical funds for anyone affected by cancer in the CancerCare Walk/Run for Hope in Paramus, New Jersey. Learn more or donate to Sue’s team by visiting

O’Neill’s Irish Pub Golf Outing Raises $175,000 for People Affected by Cancer

September 2, 2014

Ollie O’Neill moved to the states from Dublin in 1995 and pursued his dream of bringing the Irish pub culture to his new hometown, Norwalk, CT. He opened O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day of 1999. Not only did he want to provide authentic food and drinks to the community, Ollie also wanted make a lasting difference in the lives of people affected by cancer.

Ollie O’Neill at this year’s event.

“I initially wanted to do something for CancerCare because my sister was diagnosed with leukemia when she was nine,” said Ollie. “We all felt that this was a cause we wanted to help because CancerCare was right here in town and we’d heard about some of the great services. I feel that if we had had these services when we found out about my sister’s diagnosis, it would have helped quite a bit.”

In 2007, O’Neill’s Irish Pub established the first annual Golf Outing. Ollie and his team of supporters have raised an astonishing $175,000 over the past 15 years.

“We figured it was a good way to get the community involved and give back. Get out there and play, eat, drink and have fun for a good cause,” said Ollie. “It is amazing. All we do is host the event and invite people to participate. They just want to contribute. I’ve sold out every year.”

“The event that O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant hosts each year to benefit CancerCare makes a discernible difference in the lives of people affected by cancer in the Norwalk community and beyond,” said Regional Director of the CancerCare Connecticut Office Sandra Tripodi, LCSW, ACSW. “Whether it is a person who is in need of a wig, a child who is struggling to make sense of what cancer means in their family, or someone in need of financial assistance to address treatment related barriers, we depend upon our community of support to make our free services available.”

Are interested in making a difference in the lives of people facing cancer? Get your friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, and community involved in supporting CancerCare‘s free services through Team CancerCare. There is no limit to the kinds of events you can organize.




The Benefits of Joining a Support Group

August 27, 2014

People with cancer and their caregivers sometimes feel that other people, unless they’ve been through it themselves, don’t really understand or “get it.” Or they don’t want to burden their families or friends with their worries: Why do I feel so bad? What will happen to me?

Joining a support group is an opportunity to meet with people who are going through similar experiences. By expressing your thoughts and feelings and sharing what you’ve learned, you may begin to feel less alone. Group members exchange valuable information and tips with one other including where to find reliable medical information, how to communicate better with their doctors, and what useful resources are available. Groups provide a safe space in which individuals can voice their feelings, concerns, and anxieties without fear of judgment or reproach.

One support group member shares her experience and gratitude. “The people in this group have become family to me. They understand the roller coaster ride. I can cry here and I can share tender stories here. I can share the rays of sunshine as they come. I am grateful to CancerCare for facilitating this group – I don’t know what I would have done without it.”

All of CancerCare’s support groups are led by oncology social workers. These professionals help the group achieve its goal of providing support to members, and can also help members individually as needed. Groups meet face-to-face, over the telephone and online.

If you’re feeling alone and needing information and emotional support, a group might be a valuable way of connecting with people to help you cope with your situation. CancerCare has many free support groups that may be a fit for you or your loved one. And if a support group is not a good fit, you may consider individual counseling.

Susan’s Story of Help and Hope

August 14, 2014

The family at Henri’s 5th birthday party

Susan faced many challenges after her husband Chris was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. One of the greatest was figuring out the best way to talk about cancer with their five-year-old son Henri.

“Henri knows that something is wrong and I’m sure he knows more than he is able to articulate. He knows that daddy is sick,” shares Susan.

After searching online, Susan called CancerCare in search of resources to help Henri understand and cope. An oncology social worker suggested The Comfort Pillow Activity to help the family communicate with one another and feel more comfortable talking about cancer. The Activity includes a pillow that can be customized and designed to bring a child comfort, as well as a booklet and additional resources that help to initiate therapeutic conversations.

“CancerCare and their resources have been so helpful. Chris and Henri sat on the floor together, spread out all of the kit materials and colored on the pillow. It was a really great exercise for Chris – a really special bonding moment and it’s something they’ll always have together.”

The pillow features Henri’s favorite things including superheroes, rainbows, planets and rocket ships. “Henri sleeps with the pillow every night. He traced hearts on one side and wrote ‘Henri, Dad and Mom’ in each of the hearts.”

Sue feels the activity has brought the family closer and has allowed them to have difficult conversations about cancer. “When Chris has to leave for chemotherapy, he is oftentimes gone before Henri wakes up and doesn’t return until after Henri goes to bed. On those days, Henri can pull out the pillow and know that he is loved and can read the special message on an enclosed heart from his dad.”



Online Support Groups for People Coping with Cancer

July 26, 2012

CancerCare’s free online support groups connect you with others in a similar situation, helping you find support no matter where you live. Our online support groups are led by professional oncology social workers and are password-protected. Once members complete our registration process, they can participate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We offer over 20 different support groups targeting specific populations, such as people in treatment for cancer, people who are post-treatment, caregivers, and people who have lost a loved one.

A few support groups that are actively seeking new members include our Brain Tumor Caregiver Support Group, Metastatic Breast Cancer Patient Support Group, and People Who Have Lost A Loved One Support Group.

Even if we don’t currently offer a group for your specific diagnosis, we do offer general groups for men with cancer and women with cancer.

All support groups are completely free of charge, but registration is requiredLearn more.

Free Support Groups for People Affected by Cancer

January 12, 2012

CancerCare offers free support groups for anyone affected by cancer, including people with cancer, their caregivers, friends and loved ones, and the bereaved.

A cancer diagnosis can bring many difficult emotions, including fear, anxiety, and a feeling of isolation. Support groups connect you with others in a similar situation who may relate to what you are experiencing.

We offer diagnosis-specific support groups, such as a group for people affected by colorectal cancer, as well as specialized support groups, including groups for men with cancer, young adults with cancer, and parents of children with cancer.

CancerCare’s support groups are led by professional oncology social workers, and are available online, over the telephone, and face-to-face in our offices in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut. To learn more about CancerCare‘s telephone and face-to-face support groups or to register, call 800‑813‑HOPE (4673).

Online support groups are password-protected, and members must go through a registration process. After completing the registration process, members can participate 24 hours, 7 days a week. New online support groups will be offered starting February 1.

View all of CancerCare’s free support groups.

Support Groups for Men with Cancer

September 30, 2011

A cancer diagnosis can have a profound impact on a man’s sense of identity and purpose in life, especially if he cannot work during or after his treatment  or has to reduce the hours he works, notes a new article on the Cancer and Careers website (

CancerCare Director of Clinical Services William Goeren, LCSW-R observes that many men who are diagnosed with cancer have a difficult time coping with their reduced income and its emotional and financial impact on their family.  Men with cancer are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with depression than women with cancer and the article offers tips for coping with these feelings.

Read the article.

CancerCare offers specialized services for men who are coping with cancer, including online, telephone, or face-to-face support groups (available in our New York City office).

Register to participate in a men’s cancers support group.

Learn More About CancerCare’s Specialized Services for Men, Women, Children, and Families

September 1, 2011

September is the national awareness month for many different cancer diagnoses:


Explore CancerCare’s leukemia resource page to see the free services we offer for people affected by leukemia, which include a recent revision of a three-part fact sheet series on coping with chronic mylogenous leukemia.


Our free services include an upcoming Connect Education Workshop series on living with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. The first workshop will take place Wednesday, September 14 at 1:30pm EST. Register for the workshop.

Multiple Myeloma

CancerCare’s free resources include our new Connect booklet, Advances in the Treatment for Multiple Myeloma. If you have been diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma, you may wish to participate in a free support group for people affected by blood cancers. Learn more and register for this support group.

Prostate Cancer

Register for our upcoming Connect Education Workshop, “Caring for Your Bones When You Have Prostate Cancer” on September 16 at 1:30pm EST.

Ovarian Cancer

Read our new Connect Booklet, Medical Update on Ovarian Cancer. We’ve partnered with L’Oréal Paris and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund on a dedicated telephone counseling and referral service for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. To speak with a professional oncology social worker, call 1‑877‑OV‑HOPE‑1 (1‑877‑684‑6731).

Gynecologic Cancers

Learn more and register for an online support group for people affected by gynecologic cancers.

Thyroid Cancer

Listen to our podcast, “Treatment Update on Thyroid Cancer.”

Childhood Cancers

Learn more about CancerCare’s free services for children diagnosed with cancer. CancerCare also helps children who have a parent, sibling, or other loved one facing cancer. Read our e-booklet, Helping Children When a Family Member has Cancer. 


New Treatment for Advanced Prostate Cancer

May 3, 2011

This past Friday’s Connect Education Workshop, What’s New in Metastatic Prostate Cancer, coincided with the FDA’s approval of a new treatment for advanced prostate cancer.

Zytiga, a pill that decreases the production of a hormone that stimulates cancer cells to grow, prolonged the lives of men with late-stage prostate cancer who had received prior treatments and had few available therapeutic options. Listen to the workshop.

Learn more about Zytiga.

CancerCare offers free support services for people affected by prostate cancer, including an online support group for men affected by cancer. We are also recruiting participants for a face-to-face men’s cancers support group. Register and learn more about CancerCare’s free support groups.

Men who are affected by prostate cancer may also be eligible to receive up to $5,000 per year in co-payment assistance through the CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation. Learn more.

Have a Question About Men’s Cancers? Ask CancerCare

April 8, 2011

Men’s cancers are the focus of April’s “Ask CancerCare,” a column that provides answers to your questions from our experts.

CancerCare professional oncology social worker William Goeren, LCSW-R, is this month’s expert. Goeren recently responded to a question about treatment side effects and emotional issues experienced by a man affected by breast cancer —read his response.

Submit your own question for the chance to have it answered in this column. All posts are completely anonymous.