Sharing Love and Support at a glance

The ancient gift of being together and caring for each other in community is called “social support” in the healthcare world. The National Cancer Institute’s Dictionary of Cancer Terms defines social support as “a network of family, friends, neighbors, and community members that is available in times of need to give psychological, physical, and financial help.”

Medical groups and many integrative oncology experts recognize the value of social support for people with cancer.

Evidence affirms the medical benefits of social support, including better survival, better body terrainthe internal conditions of your body, including nutritional status, fitness, blood sugar balance, hormone balance, inflammation and more, lower risk of cancer, less severe side effects of treatment, and better quality of life.

showing solidarity and sharing support in a group

Tips and suggestions for developing your support circle include drawing from the strengths of different people and recognizing their limitations. Some people are at higher risk of isolation due to cultural or communication barriers. Social supports may need to adjust to give access to all.

Finding support

Many online and virtual social support programs are available for people with cancer.

Support groups

Support circles for people with cancer, caregivers, and others facing difficult situations

Find a healing circle ›

In person (Cancer Help Program) and virtual (Sanctuary) retreats for people with cancer

Commonweal Cancer Help Program ›

Free virtual support groups, healing circles, and other programs with group interaction as well as virtual retreats for people living with cancer

Program & Retreat Calendar ›

Online discussion forums

Large, active online peer discussion boards based on types of cancer and key topics

Cancer Survivors Network

Current cancer treatment news and educational content, plus more than 60 moderated social communities for people with cancer and caregivers, used by leading cancer centers

Cancer Connect ›

Connect with others through moderated discussion boards, find resources on living with cancer, communicate with family and friends through a private website or blog, utilize the calendar to track appointments, and post requests for help from family and friends

Start Here ›

MyLifeLine ›

A platform used by over 200 organizations, including over 35 different cancer organizations such as the Lung Cancer Association, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Fight Colorectal Cancer and the Kidney Cancer Association

Find the support you need from a community of people like you

Robust, active peer-to-peer discussion groups in clean format, featuring patient stories of hope, not limited to cancer

Smart Patients ›

For young adults

We emphasize that Sharing Love and Support by itself will not prevent, cure, or control cancer. Like every other therapy or practice included on this website, Sharing Love and Support is one component of an individualized integrative plan rather than a stand-alone therapy.

Words of guidance

Read some words of inspiration and guidance from Michael Lerner, CancerChoices co-founder and author of Choices in Healing.

Keep reading


Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher

Last update: February 10, 2024

Last full literature review: November 2021

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.