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Feature Article

Lean on Me – Why Cancer Survivors Need One Another

Of all the journeys you make in life, cancer shouldn’t be one you attempt on your own.

More people are surviving cancer today than ever before, thanks to advances in early detection and medical treatment. However, once active treatment ends, cancer survivors may feel lost or unsure about what to expect.

“Following the initial diagnosis, patients with cancer often lean the most on their friends and family and medical team to get them through,” said Holly Almond, MSN, FNP, of the Samaritan Cancer Program. “But as they leave active treatment, other cancer survivors are often the best source of support.”

Survivors come from all walks of life and whatever challenge you are facing, the chances are good that someone else has also experienced it and may have wisdom to share.

“Support from other cancer survivors can be a practical how-to, but it can also be an inspiration,” said Almond. “Seeing somebody else manage the complications of daily living successfully can give hope to those who are newly diagnosed and still finding out what life looks like after cancer.”

The physical treatment of cancer often has a finite start and end, but the emotional toll can linger. Patients may struggle with “why me” or bigger issues such as their purpose in life. According to research published in the journal Psycho-Oncology, those who receive emotional support after their diagnosis are more likely to find positive meaning in their cancer experience.

“There is a growing body of research that shows cancer survivors need emotional support during their journey with cancer, which helps them cope in the moment but also leads to greater contentment down the road,” said Almond. “The process of talking and being heard helps the brain so you don’t just feel better, you function better.”

Those who have struggled with cancer for a long time may be tired of talking about it or tired of being defined by it. That’s ok, too. But if you can, encourage others. And if you are a new cancer survivor, have hope for the future and find support wherever you can.

Cancer survivors and loved ones are invited to join the Samaritan Cancer Program on June 4, from 1 to 3 p.m., in Corvallis or Newport, for a National Cancer Survivors Day event. The event is free.  Advance registration is encouraged, learn more and register.