Building a Support System - Lets Fuck Cancer

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A guide to

Building a Support System

It’s important to have a support system in place when you’re going through cancer, whether you’re a patient or caregiver. You’re going to need your people around to lend a hand, make you laugh, listen to you vent, or just sit in silence with you. Cancer is a team sport.

Who’s In Your Support System?

A support system is like a snowflake – no two are the same. No matter what your support system looks like, where they’re located, or how they help, it’s important to figure out who is in your corner as soon as possible so you know who you can lean on, and for what, throughout the cancer experience.

Primary Caregiver

If you have cancer, your primary caregiver is someone who helps you manage your daily needs. Because your primary caregiver is helping you so much, while also sustaining their own responsibilities, it’s also important for them to identify their own support system.

Family & Friends That Live Nearby

This includes your loved ones that live within about a one hour drive from you. Someone who can drop everything and come over to help in an emergency. They care for you and won’t mind getting into the cancer trenches beside you.

Family & Friends That Live Farther Away

You might have family and friends that live around the country or the world, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be part of your support system. They can support you in specific ways from far away, like listening while you vent or helping you find information and resources.

Neighbors

Know which and if, there are any neighbors you feel close enough with to ask for help, like putting the trash out or walking the dog.

Religious or Spiritual Advisor

Whether you attend religious gatherings every week or are tapping into your spiritual side for the first time, finding spiritual support may be helpful.

Healthcare Team

It may seem weird, but your (or your loved one’s) healthcare team is part of your support system, too. Don’t forget that they know the ins and outs of your cancer and have treated many other people with cancer before, so talk to them about what you’re experiencing.

Support Group

Finding a group of people who have gone through the same type of cancer you’re going through, or have a similar experience as you, can be very comforting. Support groups are offered online and in person, so find the group that works best for you.

Therapist

Even if you’ve never seen a therapist before, talking to a mental health professional while you go through cancer as a patient or caregiver can be very helpful. They’re basically a third party that is always on your side….who doesn’t want that?!

Patient Navigator

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the logistical aspects of cancer (navigating insurance, making medical decisions, affording your bills, etc.), consider using the Fuck Cancer CareLine to be matched with a personalized patient navigator.

Online Forums

Similar to support groups, online forums can be a way to find community and hear other people’s experiences that are similar to yours.

How Can A Support System Help?

As soon as you or your loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the people around you start asking “How can I help?” It’s a nice sentiment, but it can feel overwhelming to find an answer when you’re trying to wrap your head around this new reality. It can also feel challenging to ask for help, especially if you’re an independent person.

By keeping a running list of things you need help with or ways you’d feel supported, you’ll have an answer ready without having to think about it. You can also email your list of needs to your loved ones and let them decide the ways in which they’ll show up. The most important thing is that you get the support you need so you can focus on dealing with cancer.

Emotional support

  • Hold your hand
  • Make you laugh
  • Listen to you vent
  • Help you weigh important decisions
  • Sit by your side
  • Help ease the burden on your primary caregiver
  • Help you process your emotions

Physical support

  • Go for a walk with you
  • Pick up groceries or prescriptions for you
  • Help around the house (clean, care for your pets, check the mail)
  • Help with childcare
  • Prepare a meal for you
  • Run errands for you
  • Coordinate your daily schedule of appointments, visitors, etc.

Medical support

  • Take you to and from appointments
  • Sit with you during treatment
  • Keep track of your health records
  • Help you brainstorm questions to ask at your next appointment
  • Talk to your health care team or insurance for you
  • Find information and resources for you
  • Research ways to ease your financial burden

I Don’t Have Anyone Who Can Help

Some people don’t have family or friends they can ask for support while they’re going through cancer and that’s okay. You can still build a support system for yourself made up of people who understand what you’re going through. You don’t have to go through cancer alone.

Healthcare Team

Your healthcare team knows the ins and outs of your cancer and they’ve treated many other people with cancer before, so talk to them about what you’re experiencing.

Support Group

It can be comforting to talk to people who have the same type of cancer or who are having similar experiences. Support groups are offered online and in person, so find the group that works best for you.

Therapist

Even if you’ve never seen a therapist before, talking to a mental health professional can be very helpful. They’re basically a third party who’s always on your side….who doesn’t want that?!

Patient Navigator

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the logistical aspects of cancer (navigating insurance, making medical decisions, affording your bills, etc.), consider using our CareLine to be matched with a personalized patient navigator.

Online Forums

Similar to support groups, online forums can be a way to find community and hear other people’s experiences that are similar to yours.

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