You don't have to go through the cancer experience alone. If you don't know anyone who can help you, ask your health care provider to refer you to a social worker or nurse navigator. They can help you develop a support system made up of volunteers, members of nonprofit or faith-based organizations or cancer program staff.
Your support system can help you:
- Keep track of your health care records and appointments.
- Talk with your health care team.
- Find information and services you need.
- Set up child care services or transportation.
- Solve problems by listening and talking with you.
- Get through the health care system.
- Find help with insurance and financial matters.
- Get help with day-to-day needs.
Find Your Advocates
There may be times when it is important to advocate or speak up for yourself. Yet, you may not always feel well enough to do everything on your own. During these times, others may be willing to speak on your behalf. Advocates care about you and want to support your healing process.
You’re advocates are not there to make decisions about your health care. However, you might ask them to help you find new health care providers or the treatment you need.
Some hospitals and cancer centers have patient navigation programs. Patient navigators guide individuals through the complex health care systems to get quality care. Ask your health care provider to help you find a patient navigator. Contact LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Services for guidance.
Develop Your Support System
- Make a list of activities others can do to help you.
- Make a list of people who can provide help and support.
- Find out when and how others are willing to help.
- Write down a schedule of dates, times, tasks and who has agreed to help.
- Share the schedule with all of the people who will be helping you.
Organize Your Helpers Online
Loved ones, friends, coworkers and neighbors often want to provide support. Let them know what you need, as well as how and when they can help. You may find it difficult to ask for or accept assistance. But think about how willing you would be to help others in a similar situation. Allowing others to help may also help them deal with your cancer diagnosis.
An easy way to organize and schedule helpers is through Lotsa Helping Hands. This free online service offers a private calendar to share with your family and friends. It helps you keep loved ones updated on your health status. You and others can also share messages and photos.
CaringBridge is another nonprofit organization that offers free and easy-to-create websites for people dealing with health challenges. This service can help family and friends stay connected during the cancer journey. Instructions and help are provided to create and update your own personal website.
A good support system can help reduce stress. It can allow you to focus on your healing process. If you need help finding support, ask your health care provider to refer you to a social worker, counselor, patient navigator or support group that is right for you.