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Form a Support System

  • Think about putting together a support system

    Who could be part of your support system?

    A support system is made up of people — friends, relatives, and members of your community — who are available and interested in helping you and your family. Often, it can include groups you're part of already, such as your faith community or parent organization at your child's school. Sometimes these groups have established programs to support families within their community, such as keeping a list of volunteers who will provide meals or transportation. You, your partner, or someone else can inform these people of your family's situation and ask for specific types of help.

    Join Dana-Farber's online cancer community and connect with other patients, survivors, family members, and friends for support and information.

    The Daily Routine: Making It Work offers tips on identifying a "point person" who assumes responsibility for checking in with volunteers and assigning specific tasks.

    Some patients and families may also choose to share updates with their support system through an online blog or website. One great website to do this is CaringBridge, a free online resource where cancer patients and their friends and family can connect, share, and receive support similar to that of a personalized social network.

    Keep in mind that many people offer help at the time of diagnosis

    If you feel comfortable, let those in your support system know that you may need help in the future, and ask for permission to call then. For example, you might respond to someone offering assistance by saying, "We don't know yet what we'll need, but would it be all right if I, or someone else, calls you once we have a better idea?" When you set the stage in this way, you may feel less awkward asking later, when you do need something and can use that offer of support.