Cancer survivors from the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital recently gathered in the Phillips Family Cancer Center and Zoom windows across the Island to be trained as peer Support Volunteers. The group is the first cohort of survivor mentors to complete training as part of the Allies of Hope collaboration between CHN and SBSH. They shared personal stories, role played patient mentor calls, and shared a wide variety of wisdom they’ve picked up through their personal journeys.
Here, the piece of advice they’d give a friend who was newly diagnosed:
“Take a breath, slow down. Everything is going to be fine. Most importantly, don’t make quick decisions.” – current Support Volunteer Kate
“Honor your feelings. They will change from day to day – and with every different process or period. It’s really important to honor whatever feeling it is that you’re having at that time.”
– Trisha, who stays positive and helpful, despite the fact she will always be in some form of treatment
“Go for a second opinion. Talk to someone who’s been through what you’re going through.”
– Dawn, whose focus is on the mantra “you are not alone.”
“Verbalize your cancer journey. Whether you’re comfortable speaking about it may be one thing – but at the very least you should journal, you should write it down. It’s very therapeutic to externalize your fears, your feelings, your concerns. If you keep all of that bottled up, it’s not healthy.”
– Perry, who believes attitude is a critical facet of recovery
“Your cancer is your cancer. People are going to try to help. Don’t listen to the war stories. People will try to be helpful and supportive – but sometimes, it goes the other way. Breathe in positive energy and breath out the yuckkies. It costs no different to be positive.”
– Jodi, with the best description of negative energy we’ve ever heard!
“Remember what you love and keep doing it.”
– Sarah, whose doctor shared the story of another patient who’d’ continued running and training during treatment. That example sustained Sarah through treatments, encouraging her to get outside and keep moving.
“Cancer treatment doesn’t need to be your life. It’s part of your life. It’s also important to consider how public you want to be. Who do you want to share with?”
– Chris – who limited the number of folks she shared her treatment with so every conversation she had wasn’t about cancer.
“We are thrilled to take this next step in our joint efforts to provide individualized cancer support for all patients and caregivers in the East End community, no matter where they are receiving treatment,” said CHN director of programs Samantha Schrager. “This enthusiastic group of caring SBSH survivors are generously sharing their hearts and experience to create hope.”
The group has faced several types cancer, including a variety of breast and colorectal diagnoses. They join nearly 500 of CHN’s active Support Volunteers from across the nation. Peer support mentors speak 15 languages and range in age from 19-94. Support matches (the connection between a trained volunteer and a patient or caregiver) often start with a shared diagnosis or similar treatment. They are then customized to meet the needs of each client based on shared life experience or special circumstance. Matches are free and confidential – and can include multiple visits.
Request a match with a trained cancer mentor, or call our Programs Team at 877.467.3638.