Ask Me Anything: How to Connect & Talk With a Survivor Who Has Been Where You Are Now

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Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all. Emily Dickinson

Every once in a while, I find a quiet place and dial a phone number given to me by the good people at Cancer Hope Network. The person on the other end of the line is a cancer patient waiting for my call. We’re technically strangers, but it doesn’t take long into our conversation to bond like fellow travelers on a road no one wants to gut out alone.

I became a trained Support Volunteer with Cancer Hope Network on February 13, 2012. The mission of this not for profit organization is pretty straightforward: Train people who have recovered from cancer, or cared for someone who has recovered from cancer, and match them with cancer patients/survivors and caregivers currently undergoing similar experiences to give them support and hope.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spoken with three women from three different states across the country as a Support Volunteer. We’ve talked about reconstruction choices, helping our children cope, cancer fears and anxieties, and much, much more. Every person I’ve spoken with over the years has ended our conversation with the same words, “I’m so glad we talked!” I know how they feel, and it’s why I do this work, because it’s incredibly reassuring to learn that our experiences are normal and we are not alone.

If you’re interested, the process is very easy. Pick up the phone and dial 877-HOPENET. (It’s a toll free number.) A Patient Services Coordinator will answer and ask you for information such as your type of cancer, stage, treatment, side effects, and age. They’ll also ask you what you want to talk about with someone who has gone through what you are going through now. Based on what you tell them, you will be matched with a Support Volunteer who is the best possible match for your individual needs. The Support Volunteer then calls you at a mutually convenient time. If you wish to speak with your Support Volunteer again, all you need to do is call the toll-free number (877-HOPENET) again to set up another phone call.

If you have questions about ANYTHING you’re dealing with and want/need to talk to someone who has been where you are now, reach out to us today. The service is completely FREE and confidential and we’re a really wonderful, nice group of people. Just make the call; you have nothing to lose and a lot of peace of mind to gain.

Who knows, maybe you and I will talk someday soon.

Survival > Existence,

Debbie

Cancer Hope Network Facts:

Cancer Hope Network is committed to a world where everyone is equal – and no one faces cancer alone. We do not discriminate based on race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex, marital status or disability. We are non-sectarian, non-denominational, and are not affiliated with any religious, political or commercial entity. Our volunteers do not recommend specific treatments, doctors or facilities. They do offer hope from diagnosis, through treatment and into recovery.

Website: http://www.cancerhopenetwork.org

Phone: 877-HOPENET (877-467-3638)

Hours: 9:00 – 5:30 EST

Image courtesy of Emily Dimov-Gottshall

 

 

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