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.
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.”
July 7, 2014
If you are helping to care for a loved one with cancer, you are a “caregiver.” It can be an incredibly rewarding role, but it can also take an emotional and physical toll. You need support, too.
Some caregivers find it difficult to ask for help. You may feel embarrassed or like you’re imposing on others. But getting help is important—for both for you and the person you are caring for.
The website Help for Cancer Caregivers was created especially to help you take care of yourself, while you take care of your loved one.
CancerCare client Kathryn opened up about her caregiving experience after her husband was diagnosed with melanoma. “One of the biggest challenges that I was facing as a caregiver was feeling the need to be ‘on’ all the time, feeling that I had to be the one who remained strong and healthy. I was surrounded by people who loved both of us and supported us, but there was no one in the room who really understood what I was going through.”
To be the best caregiver for your loved one, seek support and information from others. Caregivers who receive help report feeling less isolated, anxious and depressed. And, having a community of support can free up their time and help them maintain their physical and emotional well-being, which in turn makes them better able to care for their loved one.
“Some of the most important things to keep in mind while caring for a loved one is that it’s important to listen to them and give them a safe space, but also to have them listen to you and let them take care of you a little bit sometimes,” shared Kathryn.
Help for Cancer Caregivers is a unique collaboration of organizations with a shared goal of improving the health and well-being of the people who care for people with cancer. CancerCare has additional resources dedicated to helping you cope, including support groups, publications and podcasts. For additional help, reach out to one of our oncology social workers by calling 800-813-HOPE (4673).
June 26, 2014
Thirty families recently joined together to spend the weekend at CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp – a retreat for those coping with the loss of a loved one to cancer. The camp combines fun activities such as swimming and horseback riding with therapeutic grief activities.
“The camp is a place where the families can come together and not feel different. They meet others who have experienced a similar loss and they don’t have to explain anything to one another; they can just come together and have fun,” said Kathy Nugent, MSW, LCSW, CancerCare director of social service. “There are a lot of tears, but there is also so much laughter. They’ve all found new friends – people that understand. Our hope is that they all made a lasting connection.”
This year’s camp featured a butterfly theme, focusing on metamorphosis and healing. Families were given the opportunity to create butterfly collages honoring their loved ones and ended the weekend with a ceremonial butterfly release.
The sixth annual camp was held at Malibu Dude Ranch in Milford, PA from June 13 through June 15. The free retreat was made possible by our dedicated supporters at Eisai.
You can view more photos from the Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp or watch a video of the song, “Fly Butterfly Fly,” written and performed by Meaghan Farrell, Andy McNamara and teens at the camp.
August 23, 2012
CancerCare will hold a free yoga workshop at its national office in New York City on Wednesday, September 5 from 1:30-2:30pm. The workshop, “Gentle Yoga,” will be led by a certified yoga instructor and focus on meditative breathing, relaxation, and gentle movement.
Learn more about the workshop.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga and deep breathing exercises can help calm the mind and reduce stress. Some treatment centers have programs to teach people with cancer and caregivers the basics of relaxation or meditation. There are also a number of audio recordings and publications on this subject that provide step-by-step instructions, such as CancerCare’s free fact sheet on relaxation techniques and mind/body practices.
Leading experts in mind/body practices recently answered listeners’ questions during our Connect Education Workshop, “Using Mind/Body Techniques to Cope with the Stress of Survivorship.” Listen to the workshop.
Certified yoga instructor Marian Paglia will lead “Gentle Yoga.”
CancerCare’s “Gentle Yoga” workshop is free, although registration is required. Call 800‑813‑HOPE (4673) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Don’t live in the New York City area? CancerCare’s professional oncology social workers can help you find a yoga workshop or mind/body program in your community. Call 800-813-HOPE (4673) to speak with a social worker.
July 25, 2012
CancerCare’s free, professional support services include face-to-face workshops and wig and prosthesis clinics at our New York City office. Our workshops taking place in August and September include:
We offer free wig clinics (August 10 and 24; September 14 and 21) and breast prosthesis clinics (August 8 and 22; September 12 and 19) by appointment.
CancerCare also provides free wigs by appointment in our Norwalk, CT, and Ridgewood, NJ offices.
View a full calendar of our upcoming community programs and clinics.
Registration is required for all of our programs; call 800-813-HOPE (4673) or visit www.cancercare.org/community_programs for more information.
Don’t live in the tri-state area of New York? We can help you locate resources in your community. Contact us at email@example.com; or call 800‑813‑HOPE (4673) and a CancerCare oncology social worker can refer you to local resources.
March 22, 2012
Cancer pain can be physically and emotionally exhausting, but it is possible to manage, writes CancerCare CEO Helen H. Miller, LCSW, ACSW, in the latest edition of Oncology Nurse Advisor.
Along with advances in pain medication treatments, emotional and practical support have been shown to help patients better manage their pain and experience a better quality of life, notes Miller. Also beneficial are “skill-based interventions” such as learning meditation techniques or yoga.
Miller’s article cites the results of a recent study that found patients were able to better control their pain after learning about pain management techniques from their health care team members, or from reading educational materials.
Read the article.
CancerCare provides pain-management information in our free publications, Controlling Cancer Pain: What You Need to Know to Get Relief, and “Opening the Door to Effective Pain Management.” Leading medical experts also addressed pain-management techniques during CancerCare’s Connect Education Workshop, “Coping with Cancer Pain: What You Need to Know.”
Learn more about CancerCare’s free resources about pain management.
Read about mind/body and relaxation techniques in our free fact sheet, “Relaxation Techniques and Mind/Body Practices.”
CancerCare also offers in-person mind/body workshops at our national office in New York City, led by a professional oncology social worker.
Register for these upcoming free workshops: