Sources of support

There are many sources of support for people facing cancer. These include visitation programs like the American Cancer Society Reach To Recovery ® program for women with breast cancer. There are local support groups options through the American Cancer Society as well. If you're interested in online groups, the American Cancer Society has a Cancer Survivors Network, and you can also check out others such as the Cancer Support Community, Cancer Hope Network, and CancerCare, to name just a few.

Some of our local offices may be able to help with transportation and can put you in touch with other sources of support. To find out about services where your friend lives, contact your American Cancer Society.

Everyone, no matter how emotionally strong they are, can use support. Try to understand what your friend is going through – by listening, offering a hand, and giving encouragement along the way.

Encouraging and supporting someone does not mean you act like a cheerleader, or that you try to make them feel good when they’re feeling bad. It’s important to allow your friend to express anger, frustration, and sad feelings. You can encourage them by saying things like, “I’m sorry you’re feeling so bad. I can’t imagine how you feel, but I am here to listen anytime you need to talk.” Or maybe, “You have one more round of chemo. Maybe when that’s over, you’ll start feeling a little better.”

Everyone, no matter how emotionally strong they are, can be helped by support.

In fact, just listening and not talking may be more helpful than saying the wrong thing. Some of the wrong things to say are “I know how you feel,” when you clearly don’t, or “It will be better tomorrow,” when you can’t be sure of that either. Even though you may say these things with the best of intentions, your friend may feel like you really don’t understand and decide that it doesn’t help to talk to you. You must listen with your ears and your heart. As one person with cancer put it, “A long illness is so discouraging. You need people to get you through it.” Having a good support system means your friend does not have to face cancer alone.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: July 12, 2019

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