Coping with Cancer: Get Help for Free

Coping with Cancer Free Support Programs
This page was originally published January 25, 2023 and updated May 22, 2024.

When most people think of cancer, they think of the physical side effects: the hair loss, the fatigue, the sickness. But cancer also takes an enormous toll on a person’s emotional health. According to research published in 2020 in Translational Behavioral Medicine, cancer can cause anxiety and depression, as well as feelings of isolation and loneliness. The treatments can be grueling, and the uncertainty about the future can be overwhelming. A 2021 study reported cancer patients often found themselves struggling with their day-to-day lives, and their relationships with family and friends suffered.

As these clinical studies clearly demonstrate, the emotional side effects of cancer can be just as debilitating as the physical ones. That’s a fact that most patients and families know all too well. If you or someone you know is struggling with cancer, it’s important to reach out for help. There are many free peer and professional support programs available to you at no cost. Please check out the programs below and visit our national directory for more. ❤️

3 Free Peer Support Programs

While family and friends can be supportive, they may not always understand what you’re going through. This is where peer support can be invaluable. Talking to someone who has been through a similar experience can help you to feel less alone and more understood. In addition, sharing information and advice can help you to better manage this disease. Moreover, research has shown that peer support can reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and boost immune function. Therefore, peer support can play an important role in cancer patients’ emotional wellbeing. Here are three free peer support programs available to cancer patients in the USA:

Hopewell Peer Support Programs

Free online peer support groups for all people with cancer in the USA, their families and loved ones via Zoom. Support groups are available for patients, cancers, caregivers, couples, families, as well as cancer-specific programs, too. Please complete this form on the HopeWell Cancer Support website to enroll in the next upcoming sessions.

Cancer Hope Network Peer Support

Free one-on-one mentoring and support services for cancer patients and their families in both the U.S. and Canada. The Cancer Hope Network has hundreds of mentors who understand what you’re going through and want to help. To get matched to a volunteer mentor, please complete this online form.

Friend for Life Peer Support

A network of cancer survivors who provide free one-on-one support to cancer patients and their families. Matches are customized based on similar diagnoses, treatment, as well as life circumstances, and values. To submit a request for help, call (866) 374-3634 or visit this page of the Friend for Life website and complete the online form for assistance.

❤️ More free peer support programs for cancer patients across the USA.

3 Free Professional Counseling Programs

Professional counseling can be an invaluable resource for anyone who’s been diagnosed with cancer, providing a safe space to process these complex emotions. Counselors can help you to understand and cope with your feelings of anxiety, depression, and fear. They can also provide you with importance guidance on how to communicate with family and friends about your diagnosis. In addition, counselors can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms and build an effective support system. Ultimately, professional counseling can make a profound difference in your life, helping you to navigate this difficult journey. Below are three free professional resources that can help you today.

Crossroads4Hope

Crossroads4Hope offers a comprehensive support program addressing the clinical, social, and emotional needs of cancer patients and families in the USA all at zero cost. Support is available through the MyGo2Support online platform from any location with internet service. To apply for assistance, please complete this form on the Crossroads4Hope website.

Patient Advocate Foundation

Free nationwide professional case management services by telephone for cancer patients in the US in active treatment or have had treatment within the past six months. This no-cost program pairs you with a case manager who will help you manage finances and get the best possible care and outcome. To read more about this free cancer patient advocacy program please visit the PAF website here. The 24/7 new-client intake form is here.

Meru Mental Health Program

A free 12-week, app-based mental health program for cancer patients in the USA over 18 in current treatment and experiencing anxiety or depression symptoms. Participants get a dedicated therapist and learn behavioral and mindfulness techniques that can be practiced at their own pace. To apply, please visit this link or call Cancer Support Community (the program sponsor) for assistance at (866) 921-4623.

❤️ More professional counseling programs at zero cost for cancer patients.

Coping Tips

It’s no secret that a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. However, coping skills are an important part of the journey, and can have a profound impact on your physical and mental well-being. Here are 10 tips from the experts at the National Cancer Institute and Stanford University to get you started. Visit the links provided for even more.

1. Understand your emotions

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious, angry, or scared when you’re dealing with cancer. Cancer can be a very stressful experience, and it’s important to understand your emotions so you can cope in a healthy way.

2. Talk about your feelings

Don’t bottle up your emotions—talk about them with someone you trust. Whether it’s a family member, friend, therapist, or cancer support group, talking about your feelings can help you feel better and may even improve your health.

3. Be mindful of your thoughts

Your thoughts can have a big impact on how you feel, so it’s important to be aware of what you’re thinking. If you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts, try to refocus your attention on positive things in your life.

4. Take care of yourself physically

In addition to emotional stress, cancer can also take a toll on your body. It’s important to take care of yourself physically by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.

5. Create a support system

Having a strong support system is crucial when coping with cancer. Lean on family and friends for emotional support, and don’t hesitate to ask for practical help with things like childcare or transportation.

6. Seek peer or professional help

If you’re struggling to cope with cancer, don’t be afraid to seek peer or professional help. They can provide valuable guidance and support during this difficult time.

7. Participate in activities that make you happy

Doing things that make you happy can help you cope with cancer in a healthy way. Whether it’s reading, listening to music, spending time outdoors, or participating in a favorite hobby, find activities that bring joy into your life and make time for them on a regular basis.

8. Avoid making major life decisions

Cancer is a big enough stressor without adding any additional decision-making into the mix. If possible, avoid making major life decisions—such as changing jobs or buying a house—while you’re dealing with cancer. Wait until you’re feeling more stable emotionally before making any major changes.

9. Be patient with yourself

It’s important to be patient with yourself as you cope with cancer. Healing takes time, both emotionally and physically, so give yourself the time and space you need to recover at your own pace.

10. Find ways to cope with side effects

Cancer treatment can cause a variety of side effects, including fatigue, pain, nausea, and anxiety. There are many ways to cope with these side effects. Some people find relief with complementary therapies such as acupuncture or massage therapy. Others find that exercise helps them to feel better both physically and emotionally. Talk to your doctor about what might work best for you.

More Free Support Programs for Cancer Patients

Cancer is a difficult journey, and as a patient it is normal to feel overwhelmed at times. While family and friends can be supportive, they may not always understand what you’re dealing with. This is where a peer support network can be invaluable to you. Talking to someone who has been through a similar experience can help you feel understood. In addition, professional services can provide clinical information, advice and tools to help you better manage the emotional aspects of your disease. If you or someone you love is struggling with cancer, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. These resources above are available at zero cost to cancer patients in the USA. For more free support programs, please visit our national directory. ❤️

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