‘Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage,’ Lao Tzu said. The old Chinese sage knew about love.

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Dear Friend

Love heals. That is the simplest way to put it. Friends help us heal. Kindness heals. Kindness, they say, is love with its work boots on. The experience of being surrounded by love, family and friends who care about you, and the kindness of strangers—including doctors and other healers who care for you—is for many an awesomely powerful experience.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage,” Lao Tzu said. The old Chinese sage knew about love.

When you are hurt, or frightened, or your world has turned upside down, nothing is more healing than love. Being loved and loving are among the greatest gifts of life. Love tells us we are not alone.

For those fortunate enough to have family members who are an authentic source of love and support, that is a special gift.

Friends are a powerful source of love and support. Even one true friend to whom you can say anything without feeling judged. Someone who will stay with you, come what may.

Support groups or healing circles can be extraordinarily sources of love and support. They enable you to share experiences in confidence with others who are going through the same thing. Some support groups are well facilitated while others devolve into places where people complain about their care. A badly run support group or healing circle can be actively unhelpful. If it doesn’t feel truly healing, it’s a good sign to look elsewhere.

When we need help, it’s not just family, friends and support groups. It’s the support of a community of those around us that can make a real difference.  You may be surprised at who shows up to offer care and support.

Romantic new love, seasoned old love, love of family, love of friends. They each help. They help most all together.

Love of a pet can be so healing. A dog’s love is unconditional.

Sometimes love and support comes from a sense of connection with the mystery, with nature, or with the cosmos—whatever you call it.

It’s interesting to discover who steps back and who steps forward when we are in a difficult medical situation. Many people feel bereft when a partner steps back because they can’t deal with a medical situation. It’s a very hard thing. But others may step forward when a partner can’t or won’t. We learn a lot about partners as well.

Can we love ourselves? For some people that’s not hard. For others it can be one of the hardest things. The Dalai Lama says “you can search the whole world and not find someone as deserving of your love and support as yourself.”

How open are we to receiving love and support? Or to reaching out to ask for support when we need it?

There is a poem by Raymond Carver called “Late Fragment.”

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

That seems to me to say it all. To call ourselves beloved, to feel ourselves beloved on earth, is, for me, all I can ask for.

Wishing you well,

Michael

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.

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

Healing Circles Global

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

Find a healing circle

Commonweal retreats

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

Commonweal Cancer Help Program

Smith Center for Healing and the Arts

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

American Cancer Society

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

Cancer Survivors Network

Cancer Connect

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

Visit the website

Cancer Support Community

Start Here ›

MyLifeLine ›
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

Inspire

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

Smart Patients

Robust, active peer-to-peer discussion groups in clean format, featuring patient stories of hope

Not limited to cancer

Visit the website

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.

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Authors

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, 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, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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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, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. 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 and Program Manager

Last update: May 14, 2022

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.