We're Here to Help
At Cancer Support Community, we will help you find support, information and hope throughout the entire cancer journey so that you may never feel alone.
The Cancer Support Community provides professionally led programs of support and education to people with cancer and their loved ones no matter what kind of cancer or where they are on their cancer journey. We are here for people newly diagnosed, during and after treatment, through long-term survivorship or advanced disease.
All programs at Cancer Support Community are provided free of cost to the participant. You and your loved ones can participate in a variety of programs designed to help you learn more about cancer and its treatment. You and your caregiver can also connect with and learn from others as you face cancer together.
If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. Learning that you have cancer or that someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer is frightening, and it is normal to feel overwhelmed. We are here to help you understand your (or your loved one's) cancer. Take a look at our calendar so you can see the entire scope of our programs and services, and let us know when you can attend a Newcomers' Meeting (times are listed on the calendar). We encourage you to learn as much as you can about your particular cancer. Ask questions and do your own research. You will become your own best advocate. Once you are empowered with the information you need to make good decisions, you should trust your instincts and feel confident about the decisions you make.
A Powerful Partnership
Each year, we reach more than 1,700 people in our comfortable, home-like setting in Walnut Creek, where we work to provide you with tools to help you as you travel through this journey, taking one step at a time. You will find information about different cancers as well as resources and tools to help you manage treatment side effects and helpful resources for managing your life while living with cancer. We hope that you will feel more confident about the treatment choices you make, know that you have a network of support, and learn how to reduce stress and regain hope. Experiencing a renewed sense of hope, no matter what stage of cancer you have, is invaluable.
Cancer Support Community Basics
- Support for the emotional and social concerns through diagnosis, treatment, long-term recovery, survivorship, and advanced disease.
- Education about what to expect with treatment and its side effects, how to cope and to navigate difficult decisions that often accompany cancer, and how to live well as a survivor.
- Hope gained through being with others who are facing cancer survivorship together.
Keys to Being Patient Active
In June 1982, Harold Benjamin, PhD, founded Cancer Support Community (then known as The Wellness Community) in Santa Monica, California. At the center of the program philosophy is Dr. Benjamin’s Patient Active© Concept which advises patients to be informed, take action and connect with others. Here are keys to being Patient Active:
Take a deep breath. When you feel stressed or overwhelmed by choices, take a moment, breathe, and simply make one decision at a time. Begin by getting the information and resources that you need for the next phase of your treatment plan. Avoid projecting worst-case scenarios for the future. Take one positive step toward tomorrow.
Ask for support. Be open with your family and friends about how they can support you. Often people want to help, but don’t know how. Offer them specific examples, such as driving you to appointments or preparing meals. Take an advocate with you to medical appointments to take notes, remember instructions and discuss what you heard afterwards.
Communicate with your health care team.
Prepare a list of questions for each appointment. Ask for clarification of terms you do not understand. Ask to see x-rays or scans to get a better picture of your status. If you do not develop a good relationship with your doctor, consider finding another one. Also, always consider a second opinion on your diagnosis and treatment plan.
Participate in social activities and hobbies that you enjoyed before your diagnosis. Stay involved with friends, but give yourself opportunities to spend time alone when you need it.
“People with cancer who actively participate in their fight for recovery along with their physicians and healthcare professionals will improve the quality of their lives and may enhance the possibility of their recovery."
—Harold Benjamin, Ph.D., Founder
Develop a plan with your doctors and caregivers that gives you as much control over your life as you can realistically handle. This plan should coordinate medical and psychosocial care to support you in managing your illness and health by linking you with needed services for emotional, practical and spiritual support. Joining a support group at Cancer Support Community provides important psychosocial care.
Express your feelings, both positive and negative, in talking to your doctor, caregivers, and friends. A diagnosis of cancer can trigger many strong emotions, but you can find constructive ways to acknowledge the range of feelings that you may experience. Try using a journal to track your moods. Another good way to vent your frustration or fears is through physical activity like walking or yoga. Ask your doctor for resources to address any depression or anxiety that you may experience. This is normal and you do not have suffer with depression and anxiety.
Seek relaxation. Cancer is stressful. It helps to learn how to trigger a relaxation response in times of stress. The relaxation response is a calm, controlled physical state that may enhance the function of your immune system for a period of time by reducing stress. Consider joining a relaxation or meditation program at Cancer Support Community or engage in activities that enable you to relax, such as walking, reading, or listening to music.
View yourself as a survivor, not as a victim. The National Association of Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) states that you are a cancer survivor from the moment of diagnosis. There are millions of people for whom cancer is a distant memory. Use positive terms, like wellness, hope, and control to counteract any feelings of passivity, pessimism, or guilt. Don’t blame yourself. Focus on what you can do and control in your life right now. Cancer is not an automatic death sentence and the treatments have changed dramatically from even a few short years ago. There is always hope.
Seek support from other cancer survivors. You may find a sense of comfort in communicating with others who share your experiences, either in person, online, or on the telephone. Contact Cancer Support Community for ways to connect with other cancer survivors.
Maintain a spirit of hope. Many people have survived cancer, and you can, too. Draw on your spiritual beliefs, cultural customs, and family connections. Talk with other survivors to learn from their experiences. Hope is a motivating factor in your recovery. A positive perspective will help you handle any challenges that lie ahead. Remember that cancer is only a part of your life. You may have cancer but it does not have you.