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One-to-One: Support for Cancer Patients

  • Telephone Support for Patients and Families

    For patients and families dealing with cancer, connecting to someone who has "been there" can be a great source of comfort. One-to-One links our trained volunteers with individuals who would like support from a peer.

    A Peer Mentor listens and can:

    • Discuss symptoms you have experienced
    • Talk about what to expect from surgery, transplant or chemotherapy
    • Identify supportive resources
    • Talk about issues you are facing as a young adult patient
    • Address issues you may face caring for your loved one
    • Discuss issues unique to survivorship
    • Guide you in talking with your child about a diagnosis
    • Workplace issues - e.g., telling your boss

    This free service is open to all adult patients, caregivers, and family members at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's at any point before during or after treatment.

    Two Ways to Request a Mentor

    • Fill out this Referral Form. Once you have filled out the form, you will be contacted in 24-48 hours by a mentor.
    • Or call 617-632-4020 and leave a message. We will return your call within 24-48 hours to ask you for initial information.

    To Volunteer As a One-to-One Mentor

    Please fill out the Volunteer Application (scroll down to One-to-One Program). We ask that you be at least one year out of initial diagnosis before applying to be a mentor. Onboarding steps include:

    • In-person interview
    • Occupational Health screening
    • In-person training
    • Attending quarterly volunteer meetings

    Meet Some One-to-One Volunteers

    Abrahim Mercy

    Abrahim Mercy (caregiver)

    In 2010, Abrahim Mercy's 5-year-old son, Ali, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). When he relapsed in 2013, they moved from Dubai to Boston to receive treatment at Dana-Farber. Later that year, Abrahim confronted cancer again, this time when his wife had a breast cancer recurrence. He now shares his experience with other international patients to help answer questions and alleviate concerns. Abrahim, who operated a successful technology company in Dubai, now owns his own IT solutions company in the United States and speaks eight different languages.

    "My journey has made me a different person. When someone is in need, I want to help them, and give them hope during this difficult time."


    Katherine Walsh

    Katherine Walsh (leukemia survivor)

    Katherine Walsh was only 23 when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in 2010. Her experience taught her to confront, and later overcome, the many challenges facing young adults with cancer. Katherine earned her doctorate from Harvard University in 2015, and today she works in a cancer research lab at the Broad Institute. She is also a member of Dana-Farber's Young Adult Program.

    "I understand the importance of what it means to be there for someone. I had an incredible lifeline during my treatment, and now I'm working to pay it forward to someone else."


    Charlie Benoit

    Charlie Benoit (glioblastoma survivor)

    In 2011, Charlie Benoit, then 48, was diagnosed with glioblastoma. Since his diagnosis, he is an active and vocal member in the brain cancer community. In addition to participating in the One-to-One program, Charlie regularly speaks on patient panels, volunteers for numerous charity organizations, and in 2017 was named team Neuro's Walk Hero for the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. Charlie is a retired pharmaceutical representative and teacher who enjoys spending time with his wife and three sons.

    "Cancer isn't going to stop me from helping people. Just sharing my story as a survivor offers hope. So, I'm going to keep telling my story for as long as I can."


    Lisa Sofis

    Lisa Sofis (breast cancer survivor)

    It's been more than a decade since Lisa Sofis' 2005 breast cancer diagnosis. While the treatment that followed was challenging, "Sof" says the passing of time, as well as her involvement with the One-to-One program, has allowed her to heal. Today she not only makes calls for the program, but also helps coach new volunteers as part of the on-site training at Dana-Farber — offering firsthand experience for prospective volunteers. Professionally, Sof serves as the operations manager for Law Enforcement Dimensions, LLC.

    "I know cancer, but I also know beyond it, and I try to share that with the people I call. Being part of this program has allowed me to help others, and be helped by them too, which is truly a great thing."


    Deb Osborne

    Deb Osborne (caregiver)

    In 2008, Deb Osborne's husband, Allan, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. While the initial diagnosis was shocking, the couple felt extraordinarily lucky after Allan was successfully treated. The experience also inspired Deb to give back by looking to help others in a similar situation. Today both Deb and her husband, Allan, are involved in the One-to-One program. Deb, a retired elementary school teacher, also hosts a monthly peer-to-peer Caregivers Coffee Hour at Dana-Farber's Eleanor and Maxwell Blum Patient and Family Resource Center. The couple hopes their work at Dana-Farber provides comfort and hope to other patients and their families.

    "A cancer diagnosis can consume you. When patients are ready to talk, I'm there to help. I feel a special bond with the people I call, and I'm so grateful I have this opportunity to provide comfort and reassurance to others."