Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event filled with uncertainty and challenges. To help provide support and guidance, the Prostate Cancer Mentorship Program pairs newly-diagnosed patients with mentors who have a similar diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Peer support partners mentor and provide encouragement by sharing their personal thoughts and treatment experiences. Mentors are prostate cancer survivors. They share information about their own cancer journey regarding side effects, coping strategies and recovery obstacles.
“Upon hearing of this program, I felt this was a perfect opportunity to help others better understand what to expect,” said Ed Lupkin, a volunteer mentor. “When I was told I had prostate cancer, it was like a punch in the gut. I had the wind knocked out of me. My first reason for being excited about the mentor program was to help others weed through all this (prostate cancer) information. Secondly, to show that the information most important is what your doctor is explaining to you. Third, patients need an advocate to help guide them. Someone who has gone through this and can certainly show empathy.”
Even before COVID-19, this program was designed for individualized mentor and mentee meetings: through emails, phone conversations, video conferences or in person. The mentor and mentee work together to determine the best format.
This new prostate cancer support program grew from the success of the Man to Man cancer support group, which provides a space for men to discuss the physical and emotional aspects of this disease in a group setting.
“We have support groups set up but not everyone is comfortable going into a group setting. The mentorship program allows us to meet the needs of individuals looking for peer support in a one-on-one setting,” said Erin Dunn, community outreach coordinator for the Samaritan Cancer Program. “I am also excited to use this format to open mentor support for more cancer types and eventually having some form of mentorship available to all cancer patients.”
For more information on these support programs and others, contact the Samaritan Cancer Resource Center, which has locations in Albany and Corvallis, at 877-311-4686 (toll free), online at samhealth.org/Cancer or by email at CancerResourceCenter@samhealth.org.