Social ties and cancer survival

For 30 years the Cancer Support Community has promoted the idea that social and emotional support are an essential part of cancer care and can affect outcomes. In a recently published study, researchers at Kaiser Permanente have shown that strong ties with friends and family may help women with early stage breast cancer survive. These researchers studied 2,264 women and found that survival rates were higher for women who reported a strong network of support. The findings also described that it was not only the number of relationships that a woman has but also the quality of these relationships that was important in survival. Support included both practical help and emotional connections.

So what does this mean on a day-to-day basis? If you are someone diagnosed with cancer, get or stay connected! Reach out to others and don’t isolate yourself. Friends, family and co-workers can provide both emotional and practical support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help you need and don’t say no to offers of help. Feeling alone? Call a friend, join a support group, go to church. Need someone to help prepare a meal or give you a ride to a doctor’s appointment? Just ask. Most people want to help, they just don’t know what to do. Don’t you feel good when you are able to help someone else?

If you know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, reach out to them. Stay connected. Offer to help with practical matters or ask what you can do to help. Give them a hug, just listen, be there. Knowing that you are involved and care will not only help them feel better in the moment but can also have a positive effect on their survival. You can make a difference.

As Helen Keller once said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

Read the Huffington Post article, “Breast Cancer Study: Strong Social Ties Improve Chance Of Survival,” here.

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  • Anonymous

    It is great to see that there is research backing up the importance of social support for cancer patience! Many people tend to overlook this important aspect of emotional healing. Studies like this can help bring this issue to light.