We Need Our Friends
Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work
SEPTEMBER 22, 2017
It is no surprise to any of us that friends help us get through life. We need each other in the good times and even more in the tough ones. I don't mean to exclude family or work colleagues or any of the other important people in our lives. We need them all. Study after study after study indicates that people who have good social support manage better and have a higher quality of life--in general and most certainly through cancer.
Whenever I meet with someone for the first time, I ask:" "Who is helping you through this?" The answers are often predictable (a spouse, a sister, a dear friend), but sometimes less expected (a distant cousin who had cancer years ago and therefore understands, a neighbor). It does not much matter who it is--it just matters that there are people around. When we see a patient coming alone for important appointments or for treatment, we worry. Sometimes the worry is unnecessary as the individual will be joined later by a friend or truly prefers to come alone, but more often, it is a legitimate concern.
If you don't start off with a community, there are ways to build one. Join a support group. Consider joining a synagogue or church. Speak with someone at your child's school. It is hard to reach out, but it is much harder to do this alone.
From Heather Millar comes this short piece:
Getting Through Cancer Takes a Village
The medical community is finally producing data that show something that cancer patients know intuitively: It takes a village to get through treatment. A recent study from the University of Michigan found that when women who face breast cancer surgery walk into their first appointment, they’re usually not alone.
According to the study, half of the more than 2,500 women surveyed, patients with early stage breast cancer, involved three people in the process of deciding whether to have surgery. Another 20 percent involved at least two people in that decision process. And three-quarters of those surveyed brought friends or family along to appointments and treatments.