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How connecting with cancer survivors can make a difference for patients
Hearing the words, “you have cancer”, can leave you feeling like your whole world has been turned upside down. For Kathy, an oncology nurse of more than 15 years, she had spent her career treating patients at various points of their journey. She never imagined that one day she’d hear those three words and face her own diagnosis.
“I was constantly surrounded by people with cancer,” shared Kathy. “But when I found out that I had breast cancer it was quite the shock. The first thing I remember was feeling paralyzed.”
Despite facing fear and uncertainty about the journey ahead, Kathy was determined to remain positive. Though she was constantly surrounded and encouraged by her loved ones, Kathy felt like she needed to speak to someone who could relate to what she was experiencing. That’s when she turned to the Canadian Cancer Society Peer Match Program.
Talking to someone who’s been there
The Peer Match Program is a free, confidential service that connects Canadians with trained volunteers who have lived experience with cancer or caring for someone with cancer. Our volunteers have a wide range of cancer experiences who can share stories, insights and ideas for coping because they’ve been through it too. They can provide a unique and relatable perspective that family or friends may not be able to offer.
“After being paired with a peer support volunteer I was truly able to share my feelings and concerns with women who had similar feelings during their cancer journey,” shared Kathy. “If I didn’t have that support, I wouldn’t have been able to move on as quickly after my diagnosis and treatment. It’s important to be able to share your fears and concerns with someone who genuinely understands.”
Providing a shoulder to lean on
Kathy had participated in Peer Match for six months before deciding that she wanted to give back and support others as a volunteer. Today, Kathy has been cancer-free for more than 12 years and is a trained support volunteer who connects one-on-one with others facing breast cancer.
“I give the people that I talk to the same type of support I once received,” shared Kathy. “Knowing that I helped make a difference in someone’s experience is rewarding.”
Support services, like our Peer Match Program, have helped Kathy and others like her feel less anxious, more hopeful and better able to cope with their cancer journey. Talk to someone who’s been there. Registration is quick and easy, and you can select a volunteer based on the things you have in common.
Making progress in the cancer fight
The 5-year cancer survival rate has increased from 25% in the 1940s to 60% today.