Save some room for #GivingTuesday

giving tuesday“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

These words ring true every day, but no truer than this week as we prepare for #GivingTuesday–an annual day devoted to giving back to others. After a day spent eating and giving thanks, and two days spent shopping, this day always feels much needed–and the benefits reaped from this day grow more important every year.If you’re unfamiliar with #GivingTuesday and what it represents, learn more below and find out how you can help support the Cancer Support Community’s mission: To ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.

Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday (12/1/2015) following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy.

This year your participation in #GivingTuesday will have double the impact on people impacted by cancer. Any donations made on #GivingTuesday will be matched up to $100,000. That means that $10 turns into $20, $50 turns into $100, $500 becomes $1,000 and so on!

Your donation to CSC will help us extend the reach of our vital programs and services, such as the toll-free Cancer Support Helpline; our Frankly Speaking About Cancer educational workshops, books and online resources; the Cancer Experience Registry, a community where all who are touched by cancer can make their voices heard; and The Living Room, our online support services.

So this year on December 1, remember Winston Churchill’s wise words and save some room for #GivingTuesday.


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Support by the step- Joel’s story of running 4 marathons

This week’s guest blog is from Joel Kent. Joel  lives in New York with his wife and two children. Joel is a long-time supporter and advocate for the Cancer Support Community. His most recent effort to support the organization and all people impacted by cancer was to run the Chicago Marathon to raise money and awareness for CSC. You can support CSC by clicking here—so that no one faces cancer alone.

chimarathonWhy would anyone want to run 26.2 miles? Why would anyone want to do it four different times?!

The answer to these questions can be complicated. We run because the roads and trails are there. We run because we need an outlet. We run to enjoy nature and the outdoors. We run to be with friends and family.  We run to stay healthy and fit.  We run for others.

When I completed my first marathon, New York, in 1998, I was young and full of enthusiasm (and free time). When my friend asked me to run Boston some 15 years later, getting motivated was a lot more difficult. But, we found the extra incentive we needed by running for Dana Farber, a Boston hospital that specializes in cancer research. This was to be a bonding experience to remember and a jaunt that would raise both money and awareness for cancer. Unfortunately, during the many months of preparation we discovered my mother had colon cancer. Now our efforts were redoubled for the cause, and while we knew giving to cancer research was always important, it hit especially home now.

The 2013 Boston Marathon was supposed to be my last marathon, a run for those fighting cancer. My family waited at the finish line for me. When I passed mile 25.8, two bombs went off. My friend and I, as well as thousands of other runners, were stopped on the course. We were so close to our goal, but instantaneously a marathon finish disappeared and concern for our families and others filled our minds.  What we fight for and what is important was crystallized in that moment.

So what do marathoners and cancer patients have in common? We are fighters.  There was no way we were not going to try and finish the race. So that meant back to training through another frigid New York winter in preparation for another Boston Marathon. We completed our goal of finishing the following year.

And that was supposed to be the end of the story. No more running, more time with family and friends, more attainable goals to fit in with a busy lifestyle. Enter the Cancer Support Community.  I have been involved with the CSC for many years, starting with my efforts on the Young Leadership Council at Gilda’s Club over 10 years ago. Everyone is affected by cancer in some way. As I get older I find that those connections grow more personal and hit even closer to home. There is always a need to provide social and emotional support to those dealing with cancer. And if running 26.2 miles gets others on board, then it’s time to tie those laces and get out there and run. And that’s what my friend and I did this October, running on a beautiful day in the windy city and raising money and awareness for CSC. We support all of the people who are dealing with cancer in any way and are pushed, step by step, not to let them down.

You don’t have to run a marathon to support CSC this holiday season. Learn more about how you can make a difference in the lives of people touched by cancer here. And remember that from now until December 31 your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000.


Posted in Inspirational Stories | 1 Comment

Understanding the prostate cancer experience

CancerSurvivor092014000018It seems to be accepted as “fact” that men with prostate cancer don’t want to talk about their condition. Everyone knows that guys don’t want or need emotional support—that they usually choose to go it alone. But…is that really true?

Any diagnosis of cancer has an impact on the person who hears those words, and on his whole family. What will the future bring, or will there be one? What about your job and your ability to support your family? Prostate cancer also comes with its own special set of issues. For men with early disease, there are questions about which treatment to choose. Regardless of what you decide, there is the very real possibility of short and long term side effects that can affect your sex life or your ability to control urination—serious matters. If you have advanced disease, there are other concerns about both your cancer and its treatment.

It doesn’t make sense to deal with all these issues alone. The Cancer Support Community’s Cancer Experience Registry provides a safe, confidential, online community where men can connect with each other, share experiences, learn from and help other men going through prostate cancer.

How does it work? Go to Take some time to check out the website, register, then fill out the questionnaire especially designed for men with prostate cancer. It takes a few minutes, but this a unique way for you to identify the issues that are making a difference in your life. You can also set up a personalized web page that allows you to choose the updates and information you want.

Why should you do this? It’s time for men with prostate cancer to have a voice and to be heard. It’s a community you can choose to join and participate in on your own terms. It’s a way of helping other guys with prostate cancer get through their experience. It’s a simple step you can take to make a difference, so that we can improve the care for every man facing prostate cancer.

We also know that your wives, families and partners are there for you. The Cancer Experience Registry also has a special online place for caregivers.

Join the Cancer Experience Registry today. Or, learn more by going to

Tell your story.

Connect with others.

Learn from people like you.

Help others.

Posted in Cancer Research, Living with Cancer | 1 Comment

10 Tips for Caregivers

Gary and Lynn 3A cancer diagnosis can impact your whole world. But what happens when you are also a big part of someone else’s world? Cancer impacts not just the person diagnosed, but their whole network of friends, family members and loved ones can feel the effects as well. This is especially true for the person acting as caregiver. Caregivers to someone with cancer spend an average of 8 hours per day providing care to their loved one. The demands of caregiving depend on several different variables–stage of disease, types of symptoms experienced, functional ability, treatment side effects and more. A caregiver’s response to the cancer diagnosis, treatment and journey itself can be just as important as how the patient responds–making the need for physical, social and emotional support for caregivers extremely important. In honor of National Family Caregiver Awareness Month, here are our top ten tips for caregivers.

1) Find YOUR support system
When a friend or loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it’s an emotional time. Sometimes it can be difficult to talk with your loved one about your feelings, because you both have so much going on. Many find one of the best ways to cope with stress, uncertainty, and loneliness is to talk to others who share similar experiences. To find your own support system, look to our Affiliate Network or our online support group services.

2) Gather information
There is truth to the phrase, “Knowledge is power.” There’s no way to completely grasp the ups and downs of a cancer diagnosis and treatment – and you shouldn’t be expected to.  Being armed with knowledge may help you accommodate your loved one’s needs and help you know what to expect. To learn more about your loved one’s cancer diagnosis, click here.

3) Recognize a “new normal”
Patients and caregivers alike report feeling a loss of control after a cancer diagnosis. Many caregivers are asked for advice about medical decisions or managing family finances and/or need to take on new day-to-day chores. It is likely that your tasks as a caregiver will create new routines – after all, you’re taking on a new role in your loved one’s life as well as your own.

Maintaining a balance between your loved one’s disease and the daily activities of your own life can be a challenge. It may be helpful to identify the parts of your life that you can still control – such as your own health and relationships. In doing this, you will be able to create a strategy for integrating new routines with old ones. It may also help to acknowledge that your home life, finances, and friendships may change for a period of time. Sometimes the laundry might not get done, or maybe takeout will replace home cooking. Try to manage each day’s priority as it comes.  Take a deep breath and realize that the support you provide is priceless.

4) Relax your mind, recharge your body
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the tasks of caregiving. Mini-breaks are an easy way to replenish your energy and lower your stress. Try simple activities like taking a walk around the block or closing your eyes for 10 minutes in a comfortable chair. You are working hard to provide and secure the best care for your loved one. Time spent recharging your mind and body will allow you to avoid depression, major illness or burnout.

5) Take Comfort in Others
It’s common for many caregivers to feel a loss of personal time over the course of their loved one’s illness. Keep in mind that while you are taking on new and additional responsibilities, you are still allowed a life of your own. Many seasoned caregivers advise that you continue to be involved with your circle of friends and family.

6) Plan for the Future
A common feeling among caregivers and people with cancer is uncertainty. It’s hard to know what the future holds. While planning may be difficult, it can help. Try to schedule fun activities on days when your loved one is not feeling the side effects of treatment. You can also give yourselves something to look forward to by planning together how you will celebrate the end of treatment, or a portion of treatment.

Planning for a future in the long-term is also important. All of us, whether we have been diagnosed with cancer or not, should have in place necessary paperwork such as healthcare agent, power of attorney and a will. You can ask your loved one if he or she needs, or wants, assistance. Having essential paperwork under control will allow you to have peace of mind.

7) Accept a Helping Hand
It’s okay to have “helpers.” In fact, you may find that learning to let go and to say “YES!” will ease your anxiety and lift your spirits. People often want to chip in, but aren’t quite sure what type of assistance you need. It’s helpful to keep a list of all caregiving tasks, both small and large. That way, when someone asks “Is there anything I can do?” you are able to offer them specific choices.

8) Be Mindful of YOUR Health
In order to be strong for your loved one, you need to take care of yourself.  It’s easy to lose sight of your own health when you’re focused on your loved one. But if your own health is in jeopardy, who will take care of your loved one? Be sure to tend to any physical ailments of your own that arise,  – this includes scheduling regular checkups and screenings. And just like your mother told you: eat well and get enough sleep.

9) Consider Exploring Stress-Management Techniques
Even if you’ve never practiced mind-body exercises before, you may find that meditation, yoga, listening to music or simply breathing deeply will relieve your stress. Mind-body (or stress-reduction) interventions use a variety of techniques to help you relax mentally and physically. Examples include meditation, guided imagery and healing therapies that tap your creative outlets such as art, music or dance.  If this interests you, seek out guidance or instruction to help you become your own “expert” on entering into a peaceful, rejuvenated state.

10) Do What You Can, Admit What You Can’t
No one can do everything.  It’s okay to acknowledge your limits. Come to terms with feeling overwhelmed (it will happen) and resolve to be firm when deciding what you can and cannot handle on your own–so that no one faces cancer alone.

Do you have your own tips for being a caregiver? Share your experience and your best tips by becoming a member of our Cancer Experience Registry: Caregivers. Your voice will help us better meet the social and emotional needs of all caregivers.

Posted in Cancer Support | 2 Comments

Do Awareness Months Work?

This week’s blog post is by Kim Thiboldeaux, CEO of the Cancer Support Community. This blog post also appears this month in the Huffington Post, and you can read more of Kim’s Huffington Post blog posts here.

Huff post awarenessRecently, a friend confessed to experiencing cancer awareness month fatigue. For weeks now, her Facebook news feed and Twitter updates were filled with one cancer reminder after the other. She felt completely overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of cancers and bombarded by the amount of related information. Given my field of work, she felt guilty about even raising the issue, but she felt compelled to ask me: “Tell me the truth, Kim. Does it make a difference? Does it actually help?”

I completely understand this question and can’t blame my friend for how she feels. The fall is a particularly busy time of year. September, October and November raise awareness for 15 different cancers as compared to 14 during the entire rest of the year. September alone features 8 cancers. Without a doubt, the fall is hectic and it can be a challenge to give each cancer special attention but I can say without reservation that it is worth it. Awareness months do make a difference and they should not be abandoned.

Like a birthday or anniversary, having a time set aside during the calendar year gives some assurance that the disease in question will receive attention. Media will produce stories about it. Books may be released in conjunction with it. Groups will organize events for support as well as fundraising for research towards a cure. It’s perhaps an opportunity to remember to schedule a doctor’s appointment or take possibly preventive actions (think sunscreen with effective SPF) or highlight little known signs and symptoms. At its core, awareness months have as their goal bringing attention to a particular cancer–sometimes its very existence such as male breast cancer– by providing information on the disease and shedding light on the specific challenges it presents. It lets impacted people learn about available health and support services and how to access them. This is all the more important for rare, overlooked cancers or ones that people are generally uncomfortable discussing (think gynecological cancers).

Awareness months, and the ribbons used in conjunction with them, are not without controversy. In particular, there is concern that serious medical conditions have been commercialized. There’s a very heartfelt and articulate piece by Nancy Stordahl which lays out some good arguments and concerns about the well-known pink ribbon. In her piece, she challenges us to name any other color ribbon associated with a cancer. I agree with her that most people probably couldn’t name one. And yet, when we see the unfamiliar dark blue ribbon (colon cancer) or green ribbon (adrenal cancer), doesn’t it invite the question and subsequent conversation? The other big question is whether or not awareness months have had any impact on lives saved. It is difficult to quantify that. Early detection can raise the number of people diagnosed with a cancer and yet, because they are diagnosed earlier, possibly their survival rate is better.

All of us at CSC firmly believe these feelings are something that no one should have to go through alone. We believe that people impacted by cancer, or any serious illness, are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community. Awareness months may not be perfect, but they do make a difference.

Your thoughts on awareness:

For the last two months we’ve asked for your thoughts on awareness. Here’s what you want people to know about cancer awareness:

“Be your own advocate. Do your homework.” – Jill W.

“We can do things to protect our health – diet, exercise, sleep, and appropriate supplementation, balance.” – Jan A.

“Cancer has a thousand faces and no one person has the same experience -before, during treatment, after, etc.” – Adele C.

“To be aware that not all cancer has a pink ribbon, there are a rainbow of colors that represent all kinds of cancers.” – Barbara N.

“The more we talk [about cancer] the more we can better understand.” – Donald L.

“I would like to bring awareness to the fact there are 26 different color that are associated with different cancers throughout the year, with one being lavender for all cancers.” – Steve R.

“Have regular screenings…” – Kathey B.

Do you have any thoughts to add about the role awareness months play in the cancer experience? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, or tweet us at @Cancersupportcm.

Posted in Cancer Advocacy | 2 Comments