Of all the people and strategies that can help you through and beyond cancer treatment, nothing is more important or valuable than a cancer buddy (or two). No matter how much your family and friends love and support you, no matter how much your medical caregivers try to be helpful, no one gets it the way that someone else who has been through it can.
This, in my experience, turns out to be the reason most people come to cancer support groups and is the biggest reward they take away. Many people stay in touch with one another for years. Several of my groups that have been particularly close continue to meet for monthly brunch or a bi-annual dinner more than ten years afterwards. When there is a worry, they turn first to one another.
A few weeks ago, a woman who is part of one of these stay-in-touch-groups had a worrisome mammogram, Her first calls and emails were to her cancer buddies, and they rallied and cared and understood and celebrated when the news turned out to be good.If the news had turned out to be bad, they would have been her best allies.
If a group is not right for you, there are other ways to find your buddy. Consider other cancer-related activities: a yoga or exercise program, attend a lecture, go online. When you come for a check-up, sit next to someone in the waiting room who looks like a possible friend and initiate a conversation. You may help her, too,
From Heather Millar:
Why You Need a Cancer Buddy (and How to Find One)
By Heather Millar
It’s always meant as a well-intentioned comment, but I find there are few things more aggravating than
someone telling a cancer patient, “I know how you feel.” Unless that person is a cancer survivor, they can’t
know what it feels like to fight cancer.
I was lucky during my treatment. I have a few friends who had been through breast cancer. They gave me
tips, advice and encouragement. They made me feel like they had my back. They answered my questions.
They helped me feel like I was part of a community of cancer warriors.
But what if you just don’t have any friends like that? Here are a few ways to find some:
Most cancer centers run support groups. Alas, they are not usually focused on a particular type or
stage of cancer, but they can be a source of general knowledge. See if there’s one at your hospital.