Stories from caregivers

Deborah Baker: insights from a caregiver

Deborah is the widow of a person with cancer and an alumna of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program. She shared her story, including learning to figure out what help she needed and then to ask for help.


On asking for help: No one wanted to intrude, even family, especially since I made it seem like I was handling everything. I knew I probably needed help, but I didn’t ask because I had no idea what to ask for.

I have learned about the serious limitations and consequences of not giving myself permission to ask for help and for not knowing how and what to ask for.

On joining a support group: Until the Cancer Help Program, I did not want to join a caregiver’s support group online and I did not pursue finding a local one. I was aware of them, but I could not imagine how it would have helped me. I wish I had pursued finding a local group to attend.

On how she views caregiving: I want to surround you with love, to listen to you, to laugh and cry with you on this journey. I think of my caregiving as an amazing opportunity to show you how much I love you. I am grateful for the gift of being able to care for you, physically and emotionally.

Read Deborah’s full story of caring for her husband with cancer.

Maisie Greer

We were going to stay positive, fill ourselves and everyone around us with love, and believe wholeheartedly that Robynn would be that slim-chance survivor. Our childlike hope for a miracle was real and it drove our decisions and actions throughout the months that followed. I am deeply grateful for our friends and family who let us hang onto that dream. Although possibly naïve, it encouraged us to be present, a practice that continues to shape our lives.

Read Maisie’s full story of caring for her mother-in-law with brain cancer.

Claire Robson: words from a caregiver

I didn’t have cancer. I didn’t undergo chemo or surgery. I wasn’t faced with the prospect of death, but still, I lived with those realities every day, usually keeping my fears and sadness to myself.

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Maria Williams

Research and Communications Consultant
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Maria Williams is a research and communications consultant who brings over 15 years’ experience in research, consumer education, and science communication to CancerChoices. She has worked primarily in public health and environmental health.

Maria Williams Research and Communications 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


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

Last update: October 20, 2023

Last full resource review: March 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.

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.