For more than a dozen years, the St. Charles Cancer Center has facilitated a successful peer support program for breast cancer patients called Support Sisters. The idea is to match a trained volunteer to a newly-diagnosed cancer patient to provide support and hope.
This year, the program was expanded to serve men and women in Central Oregon with all types of cancer. “We now have a roster of 42 trained volunteers representing 21 different types of cancer,” said St. Charles Survivorship Coordinator Marlys Johnson. “It has been pretty exciting making matches, knowing how beneficial this is for our patients.”
St. Charles is pleased to announce a partnership with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the next training, scheduled for October 22. “The LLS has a phone-based peer support program – First Connection – for people with blood cancers,” Johnson said. “We’re joining forces in providing training for First Connection and our Support Sisters/Brothers program.”
The morning session will feature presentations from medical professionals and community resource representatives, and will cover the basics of good communication skills. Afternoon break-out sessions will include information for specific cancer types.
“We’ve gotten such great feedback from patients who have had a Support Sister or Brother,” said Lizzi Katz, St. Charles Survivorship Coordinator. “Talking to someone who has been through cancer treatment can give very personal inspiration and support.”
To qualify for the volunteer training, a cancer survivor must be at least one year out of treatment, or at least one year on maintenance therapy.