Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work
MARCH 10, 2017
In our regular everyday lives, we need support and we need each other. When going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment and recovery, that need is enormous. We need the practical assistance: meals after a long treatment day, a ride to the hospital, driving the soccer carpool. We also need the emotional support. So many people say something like: "My friends carried me."
Some of us are lucky enough to have a natural and easy support system. Others have a more difficult time getting what they need. Maybe you are new to your community and haven't had time to build a group of friends. Maybe you, like many of us, spend most of your daytime hours at work, so that your work colleagues are your friends, but they likely aren't so available on a Wednesday morning if you need a ride home after chemo. Some people just don't have a circle of friends and have taken pride in their independence and self-sufficiency. And, of course and sadly, some people are just more alone in the world.
Even if you can't easily identify helpers, there are people in your community who want to be of service. Even if you aren't a member, you can call a local church or temple and ask for assistance. You can call Town Hall and ask if there are community groups that provide neighborly assistance. You can introduce yourself to your neighbors (understanding that this feels awkward) and explain your needs. Ask to speak with an oncology social worker at your treatment center.The goal here is just reaching out. Over and over, I hear stories like this that have happy endings.
And here is a useful list of suggestions from Living Beyond Breast Cancer:
Here are LBBC's 10 Tips For Getting Good Support:
Surround yourself with good listeners.
Be as open as you can about what you're thinking and feeling.
Avoid people who make you feel uncomfortable.
Ask other people who have had breast cancer what resources they found helpful.