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Most things in life are much easier when you don’t go through it alone. This is
particularly true when faced with a cancer diagnosis. Having a support network
can be very important; often it can significantly affect outcomes, including long
term survival. One recent study showed that lung cancer patients with strong
social relationships and support systems had a 50% increased likelihood of
survival compared to those who lacked these basic social ties.
How can I make sure that I have the right people around me?
Not all the people you know will be there to support you throughout your
journey. Some have trouble dealing with the curveballs life throws and others
are just not helpful. Others can be there on a very limited basis only. Some will
disappear, this may include people you have been close to for many years.
One way to ensure you have a strong network is to ask people to help and even
spend time with you. Here are some things you might consider:
How would I describe my current support network?
Who are those near and dear to me?
What are my needs for having people around me? These may differ
between people who prefer a crowd and others preferring more alone
What are my needs besides companionship?
Who can be included in my support network?
I have no family or they have vanished—who can I count on?
It is important to know what’s important to you in a support network. It is also
important to personally reach out for help, or have someone whom you trust do
this for you.
A support network does not simply mean just having someone there – it can be
this, but more often it goes a lot further. Your network may offer assistance in
many ways which could take things off your “daily load.”
“I get by with a little help from my friends.” – The Beatles
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Chris Elliott Fund
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Identifying Your Support Network
A support network is a team of support to help you during your diagnosis
and treatment. This support can follow you through your care and after
treatment is over.
Your support network may include:
− Spouse or partner
− Work colleagues
− Religious ties
− Social ties
− Community ties
In one study regarding the importance of support networks it was
discovered that when family members were less supportive, community
and religious ties become much more critical
There are some people who you may not want to spend time with. That is
fine. You can be “too unwell” to listen to the problems of those who might
want to spend time with you, as opposed to really helping. Don’t be afraid
to say no to some people.
You may also consider visiting the following websites:
Meal Train – when a friend is in need, everyone says: “what can I do to
help out?” The answer is usually to help them with a meal. This is what
a meal train is. A community coming together to support someone.
Caring Bridge – an online space where you can connect, share news,
and receive support. It’s your very own health social network coming
together on your personalized website. And thanks to those who
donate, it is available 24/7 to anyone, anywhere at no cost.
Use the attached worksheet to map out your social network and individuals
you may connect with during course of your treatment.
We at the Chris Elliott Fund understand your needs and can assist you in putting together
a support network. Please remember that you are not alone. Contact us today.