Canadian Cancer Society's Peer Support Service adds a human touch

Vital service reaches 10-year milestone

TORONTO, Nov. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - When Bob Tuck, a retired school principal in North Bay, was told he had aggressive prostate cancer, he simply didn't believe it. "My PSA [prostate specific antigen test] was up, but I had no symptoms. I felt fine," he says. "My doctor said 'you don't have cancer, but let's do a biopsy just to see what's going on.' " A few weeks later, Bob and his wife were told by a urologist, "You have prostate cancer and it's aggressive."

"I was stunned, in complete shock," says Bob. "The first thing we did when we got home that day was call the Canadian Cancer Society's information line. They gave us so much helpful information and reassurance. Two days later I was set up with a support group with 5 other men dealing with prostate cancer. They devoted the whole evening to me," he says.

That was 8 years ago. Since then, Bob has undergone surgery, 37 rounds of radiation and 4 years of hormone therapy to treat the cancer. Today, at 72, Bob is fit and active, working out at the local YMCA 5 days a week during the winter and playing golf every day in the summer. He devotes much of his free time to volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society. "The Society's Peer Support Service is great," he says. "I speak to men who have prostate cancer and who have many of the same questions and worries that I had. I can say 'here's what worked for me and what didn't; here are some things you should consider.' I always make sure they check with their doctor to ensure that what worked for me is compatible with their treatment. When you have cancer, it's a tremendous help to hear that someone else has been through it and has come out the other side."

Our free Peer Support Service connects people with cancer one-on-one with trained volunteers who listen, provide hope, offer encouragement and share ideas for coping - all from their unique perspective as someone who's been there. This confidential phone service is tailored to the individual's needs and preferences. We match every individual with a suitable volunteer based on a number of factors, including cancer type, sex, language and lifestyle.

Since its inception 10 years ago, the Peer Support Service has helped 60,000 people deal with cancer. Last year alone, 5,400 cancer patients and caregivers shared their experiences with a peer who had been on their own cancer journey. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they and their loved ones may feel like their world has turned upside down. We know that talking to others who've gone through a similar experience is comforting.

Many people who have used this service say it helped them get a better understanding of what to expect throughout their or their loved one's cancer experience, making them feel more hopeful and less anxious. And it helped them cope.

A recent study by the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact showed that the Society's Peer Support Service has a positive impact on cancer patients and their families.

Some results from the survey:

  • 96% of those surveyed said peer support gave them a chance to talk with someone who's been there

  • 93% said it made them feel more supported

  • 92% said it made them feel less alone

  • 91% said it helped them cope

  • 88% said it made them feel less anxious

  • 84% said it made them feel more in control of their life

For more information on our Peer Support Service and other services, visit cancer.ca, call us at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934) or email info@cis.cancer.ca. You can also contact your local Canadian Cancer Society office.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

For 75 years, the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive.

Image with caption: "Bob Tuck, a cancer survivor, volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society's Peer Support Service (CNW Group/Canadian Cancer Society (National Office))". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131129_C5991_PHOTO_EN_34073.jpg

SOURCE: Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)

For further information:

Sasha Anopina
Bilingual Communications Specialist
Canadian Cancer Society
sasha.anopina@cancer.ca
416-934-5338


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