Loneliness: Another Forgotten Challenge of Cancer

By Cancer Foundation on January 30 / 2019


Did you know that here in Canada, at least one in five people experience some degree of loneliness or social isolation? Loneliness can sometimes even be hard to define on a larger scale, let alone resolve, but more Canadians than ever are living and spending much of their time alone. While we’re more connected than ever through technology, our face-to-face interactions and offline communities are dwindling.

Its own kind of “alone”
For someone who is facing cancer, the experience of loneliness can be as much about emotional disconnection as physical isolation. They experience situations and emotions that very few of their family members or friends can relate to, unless those people have had cancer themselves.

As much as loved ones may try to empathize, it can be difficult for them to really understand what a patient is experiencing. It’s also common for those going through cancer to withhold their feelings, to avoid others feeling sorry for them or to prevent people from minimizing their experience. And after treatment, these feelings often persist; cancer survivors can feel especially alone and misunderstood given the expectations that their life will go right back to the way it was before cancer. Sometimes loved ones are ready to move on, while a patient continues to deal with physical symptoms, emotional struggles, and a changed sense of identity and perspective.

A recent report from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC) showed that 70% of Canadians reported emotional challenges after their cancer treatment ended, and that 25% were not satisfied with the emotional support they received as an outpatient.

But thankfully, there are many solutions that exist within our communities to help those facing cancer feel more supported, understood, and prepared to meet the challenges cancer can bring. Expressing yourself authentically, being vulnerable and truly connecting with others helps alleviate loneliness, but it can be an overwhelming step to take. Many find it much easier to reveal their hopes and fears to others who have gone through cancer themselves…those people “get it”, because they’ve been there.

What you can do
At the Cancer Foundation, we offer Group Coaching programs lead by professional Cancer Coaches where you can benefit from specialized knowledge while gaining support from people with similar experiences to yours. These programs provide the opportunity to connect with others at various stages of cancer, to meet people who share your experiences and concerns, and to receive practical guidance from health care professionals who understand what you’re going through. It’s a safe, supportive, friendly space.

Whether you have been recently diagnosed, just finished treatment or considering going back to work, there is a Group Cancer Coaching program for you. With topics like Brain Fog, Coping with Cancer, Coaching for Caregivers, and programs involving fitness and meditation, you can choose a group that will address whatever you are facing. Click the button below to find out more, and if you have concerns about loneliness, isolation, or any other challenge related to cancer, you can also meet one-on-one with a Cancer Coach to begin building a personalized plan to reach your goals.

Learn More About Group Coaching

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