It’s a great comfort to be part of a caring community, especially when you are fighting for your own or a loved one’s life. A cancer diagnosis can be daunting, and treatment hard to bear.
CANSA recognises the importance of support groups for cancer Survivors (patients / in remission), Caregivers and loved ones, and offers them the opportunity to join a caring community, when they join their local CANSA Support Group (face-to-face), or one of CANSA’s online support groups (see details below).
Here members will interact with others who have a real understanding of their life experience, and mutual sharing of coping strategies and valuable information may take place.
You may be fearful of sharing how you truly feel, as you fear misunderstanding and rejection. However, there are clear benefits to joining a support group, whether face-to-face or online, which may make it worth your while.
The following online support groups and resources are available to help those affected by cancer to cope better with cancer diagnosis & treatment.
Facebook Support Groups:
The privacy setting on our Facebook Support Groups is ‘private’ in order to ensure your privacy.
1. Our Facebook Group: CANSA Survivors – Champions of Hope for cancer Survivors (patients / those in remission) and loved ones – receive encouragement from fellow members and share your story
Portia Ntuli: “What I’ve seen so far in this group is that we share each other’s pain. Most people including friends and family don’t understand that cancer is an illness like any other, because you mention cancer and everybody you thought was your friend disappears. Colleagues shy away from you as if you have a death sentence. Therefore the cancer Champs are the family we need, when we need to be lifted up, or just to vent our fears.”
Cheryl de Wit: “Let’s just say that this group isn’t just a support group, we’re a family to each other. We voice our fears about treatment or check-ups. We can say that we’re feeling down or angry or broken inside. We can rejoice about getting the all clear after another check-up. We can grieve together when another warrior has received their ‘angel wings’. Here we all have voices that get heard. And nobody has got an issue that is too small or too big. We are here for each other and we understand.”
Lisa Lolly Mdleleni: “To me it is very helpful in support and there is a quick response not only to my questions, but to other members as well. I like the fact that each person is also given all necessary information that can help them.”
Peter Brand: “When I was diagnosed with colon cancer it was emotional, but decided I won’t go lie down, I’ll beat this. My next thought was how do I go about this on my own, and thus decided I needed an online support structure to vent my feelings and fears to help me get through the trial. Luckily I stumbled upon Champions of Hope and found immediately a family of hope. When one shares it helps one to heal, but at Champions of Hope you get the added value of members that listen and respond with love and encouragement. That alone speaks wonders for the group and helps one to mentally stride towards healing.”
Above quotes used with permission
2. Our Facebook Group: CANSA Caring for the Caregivers for Caregivers of cancer Survivors (patients) – receive encouragement from fellow members and share your story
Clarissa Oosthuysen Van Rooijen: “This group has encouraged me and helped me through the worst journey of my life. My hubby passed away from prostrate cancer after a 3.5 year struggle with the disease. Months before his passing I joined this group and followed similar journeys of Caregivers. Now almost 8 months after losing my husband I am still in contact with the friends I made. They keep me standing on difficult days. I still attend a CANSA monthly meeting as well.”
Rob Charlton: “Left floundering in shock after an unsympathetic announcement of my diagnosis, I would have wanted to know about a site like this. Since joining, my wife, who is my Caregiver, and I have been able to suggest and give support to others going through what we went through.”
Ronni Goodier Vanderbyl: “During my husband’s illness, I received a lot of moral support when I’d post an update. As a Caregiver, you often feel so alone…. but posting about feelings, would bring comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Since my husbands death, I sometimes post words of encouragement or comfort, when I read about other people’s struggles now…”
Above quotes used with permission
3. Our Facebook Group: CANSA TLC – Childhood Cancer Support for children & parents / guardians affected by cancer – receive encouragement from fellow members and share your story
Says Portia Masango, whose son was diagnosed with cancer: “Today marks exactly one year since my then 5 year old was diagnosed with cancer. I can still see Dr Khoza’s face when she said, ‘I’m afraid I’m gonna have to admit Tshegofatso, I need a CT scan done on him tomorrow, cos I suspect he has cancer.’
We were in Mankweng, a strange place, with no one we know around. The reality of it all never really hit me until we got transfered to Steve biko Academic. Then I got to understand what having a child with cancer means. Chemo, the nausea, loss of appetite, losing weight, being weak, sometimes feeling so helpless, feeling like just screaming. Being anxious, asking yourself: is he going to make it? The hope I had after completing the chemo cycles, only to do the CT scan and learn that the tumor was still there! Yet somehow having the strength to still go on.
Today, a year later, I’m grateful for every thing thus far: being able to attend school without major problems, just the occasional bleeding here and there, his glowing face despite chemo, still being able to play, slowly gaining back the weight, and the support from the CANSA TLC Childhood Cancer Facebook Support Group. It’s much easier when you talk to people who really understand what your talking about!”
Above quote used with permission
Online Support Groups (WhatsApp / Zoom):
Please find information regarding upcoming online support group meetings on Zoom, or join a WhatsApp support group that speaks to your needs…
Email Support Programmes:
Our iSurvivor Online Support Programme to guide cancer Survivors (anyone who has heard the words ‘you have cancer’) along their journey and help them cope better (weekly emails)
“Good Morning Autie Sophia, I am saddened by hearing that this is your last email to me. I always look forward to hearing from you. For the past 4 months you have given me the strength to fight this and not lose hope and for that I want to say thank you.I did my op last month and I’m still healing. My next chemo is scheduled in December and I have 4 cycles left. I’m not looking forward to it to be honest. I pray that this works and I go into remission. I’ve lost my hair and my husband loves teasing me about, and he makes me forget about it all. I put up a strong face to everyone, but deep down I’m so scared. I’m scared of death and leaving my beloved family. Thanks again for giving me strength to face tomorrow…” (Survivor who benefitted from iSurvivor)
Our iSurvivor Metastatic Breast Cancer Online Support Programme to guide MBC patients along their journey and help them cope better (weekly emails)
Our KickButt Online Support Programme to help you quit smoking (weekly emails)
Online Information and Resources:
- CANSA’s CancerCare Coping Kit Audioprogramme (helping you & loved ones cope with a cancer diagnosis)
- CANSA KZN and the KZN Department of Health collaborated to produce the “What Is Cancer Booklet” a basic guide about cancer and oncology: English | Zulu
- Coping with Cancer infograhics (available in isiZulu | isiXhosa | seTswana | seSotho | Afrikaans | English)
- Palliative Care Resources (pain management) and CANSA Pain App
- Dietary Tips and nutritious recipes
- Skin Care (Avene)
- CANSA’s Free2Bme Adolescent and Young Adult mini-site
Find more info & resources here for cancer Survivors (anyone who has heard the words ‘you have cancer’) and view all CANSA’s Fact Sheets & Position Statements, which provide general information regarding cancer, conditions giving rise to cancer, coping with cancer, cancer screening, types of cancer, cancer treatment, nutritional guidelines for cancer patients, possible carcinogens and information on how to reduce cancer risk.
CANSA’s Fact Sheets & Position Statements are provided for general information purposes only, and to state our stance on particular matters. We do not specialise in treatment of cancer. It is therefore important to discuss any questions which may arise with the appropriate specialists.
Webinars, Videos and Infographics
Find information regarding upcoming webinars on various online platforms and also recordings of webinars featuring experts in the field as well as cancer patients and volunteers…
Lifestyle Risk Assessment Tool
Check to see if you are lowering your personal cancer risk as much as you can by completing our online Lifestyle Risk Assessment, and receive guidance on how to improve your lifestyle. Then visit our Seal of Recognition section of the website to see which products you can buy to support a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
CANSA Tele Counselling and Tele Stoma Support
CANSA Tele Counselling can be accessed via the CANSA Help Desk on 0800 22 66 22 toll free, to make an appointment with a CANSA counsellor. Or send an email to the Help Desk via email@example.com – this is a confidential, professional, cancer-related telephonic counselling service to cancer patients, caregivers and their families and parents or guardians of children living with cancer. Counselling is available in seven languages (English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, isiZulu, siSwati, Sesotho and Setswana) and is free of charge.
Tele Stoma Support – stoma-specific tele counselling is provided to the public. Appointments may be made on 0800 22 66 22 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If a cancer patient is concerned that their treatment is being unnecessarily delayed or they have not been given access to medication or treatment they may fill out the online form on this web page, to make contact with our Advocacy staff.
Additional Online Resources
- Oncology Buddies Big C Survivor’s Guide (Support resources for cancer patients)
- Oncology Buddies Online Magazine (Focus on cancer awareness, education and support)
- Buddies for Life Online Magazine (Focus on breast cancer awareness, education and support)
- Crossing the Creek (Download free book – subject to conditions – a practical guide to understanding the dying process for patients, loved ones and caregivers)
Get in touch with us by sending us a message on Facebook or phoning CANSA’s Help Desk toll free: 0800 22 66 22 or email us at email@example.com – you can also message us on WhatsApp: 072 197 9305 (English and Afrikaans) or 071 867 3530 (isiXhosa, isiZulu, siSwati, Sesotho and Setswana)
Face to Face Support
Contact your local CANSA Care Centre for information regarding support groups, individual counselling, dealing with your diagnosis or coping with side effects of treatment: we are able to assist with wigs, prostheses, medical equipment hire, stoma products / care, and home based care. Staff may also refer patients to experts in the community, for example, where physical rehabilitation is required.
CANSA is committed to connecting people facing cancer with information, day-to-day help as well as emotional support they need in the communities where they live. Our aim is to ensure that cancer Survivors and their loved ones don’t have to face cancer alone; we’re here to support them through every step of their cancer journey.*
* The responsibility rests with patients to contact CANSA for assistance. CANSA is not informed of any diagnoses / of patients being treated at medical centres. Family need to obtain permission from patients, before CANSA may contact them. Read more…