"Another crucial theme here is the power of social connection: no man or woman is an island. To feel part of a network of caring at a time of serious illness is deeply reassuring."

Sources Of Support

No person is an island and for patients of cancer, they are part of a sometimes turbulent inner world of thoughts and concerns. They are part of a world that extends to family, spouses, children, friends, even other patients who share a similar diagnosis. This section - SOS - short for Sources Of Support, are part of the authors carefully curated collection of wisdom that relates to how tap a network of people and resources to help you through the storm.

Support Groups: The Benefits of Talking with Others

Authors: David Spiegel, M.D. Pat Fobair, L.C.S.W., M.P.H.

Key Concepts: Cancer support groups: how they work, why they work, and the benefits. How groups nurture a new perspective and why this reframing of the problem is important.

In This Article: The authors explain support groups, how they work, why they work, and the benefits to the patient.  They discuss how these groups nurture a new perspective and why this reframing of the problem is important. Also covered is how helping other patients can improve a new patient's own coping. Also included are a helpful list of typical topics and quotes.  

For the first time, I heard someone talking about experiencing what I had experienced, and suddenly I realized that I was not the problem, but instead that I had a problem.

Cancer and the Family's Needs

Authors: Patricia T. Kelly, Ph.D.

Key Concepts: Information and advice to help address the turbulent feelings of family members that can accompany a cancer diagnosis

In This Article: The author provides insights into the often-overlooked family’s needs for information and help in dealing with emotional reactions to a cancer diagnosis. The article covers the feelings and concerns of adults of either sex whose parent was diagnosed with cancer, the parents, spouses, and children of those diagnosed with cancer. Included is information relating to family risks and resources and actions that can help address the needs of the immediate and extended family.

I was surprised at the depth and often raw quality of the emotions these daughters expressed about their mothers’ breast cancer diagnosis and the effect this had had on their own lives.

Religion and Spirituality

Authors: Andrew W. Kneier, Ph.D. Rabbi Jeffery Silberman, D.Min.

Key Concepts: How various religous perspectives speak to the questions that emerge as a result of cancer. 

In This Article: Cancer has a way of capturing our attention, deepening our reflection on what is important, and causing us to live with more awareness of our ultimate priorities.  A religious perspective can help us as we grapple with how we feel and come to terms with having cancer. The authors discuss how wisdom traditions can make sense of mortality, and how to address common questions patients ask, namely: why me, why do we suffer?

Many patients have asked, in open protest or in private anguish, “Why did this have to happen to me?

Religion and Spirituality: The Role of the Clergy

Authors: Reverend Elmer Laursen, D.Min.; Reverend John D. Shanahan; Rabbi Joseph Asher; Ernest H. Rosenbaum, M.D.

Key Concepts: An intimate look into the thoughts and work involoved in religious ministry. 

In This Article: Ernest H. Rosenbaum interviewed representatives of three faiths—Chaplain Laursen, Father Shanahan, and Rabbi Asher—to ask them how they approached individual patients and how those patients reacted. What follows is not a comprehensive discussion of religion; it is an attempt to understand the role of the clergy with regard to the patient who has cancer. In spite of the many differences among the three faiths, in both concept and practice, it was found that in dealing with the cancer patient the three clergy differed only in style. Their objectives were similar: to help people to live, and also to die. In this respect, their roles do not differ from those of doctors, nurses, social workers, or volunteers.

...what I can do, as a rabbi, is constantly reassure a patient that a great deal of his recovery depends on that person’s will to live. If I can help strengthen that will to live, I have made a contribution.