Counseling & Support: Patient-to-Patient Support Program

Many people who are diagnosed with cancer struggle with a fear of the unknown — fear concerning treatment, recovery, the hospital experience, and coping with a serious illness. During this difficult time, you may find it comforting to speak with a cancer survivor or caregiver who has been through the experience of treatment, and is willing to listen to any concerns or anxieties you may have.

I met a lot of wonderful and dedicated staff and volunteers during my 14 years as a patient-to-patient volunteer. It was a privilege and honor.

-Patient-to-Patient Volunteer

For more than 30 years at Memorial Sloan Kettering, we have offered patients who are in active treatment as well as their family members the chance to speak with former patients and caregivers through the Patient-to-Patient Support Program.

Patients, families, and volunteers often discuss topics including:

  • coping with a cancer diagnosis
  • making treatment-related decisions
  • quality of life during and after cancer
  • advocating for your needs
  • navigating the medical system

These conversations, which may vary in length, can take place in person, over the phone, or via e-mail. Patients and family members consistently tell us they find the experience to be enriching, therapeutic, and healing. All conversations are private and remain confidential. For more information please call the Department of Volunteer Resources at 212-639-5980.

Patient and Family Advisor Program

Patient and family advisors are members of the Memorial Sloan Kettering community who are committed to representing the patient and family experience. Advisors are involved in discussions about the following:

  • development and implementation of policies and programs
  • design of our healthcare facilities
  • education of our professionals
  • delivery of care

They also represent the patient and family perspective on many committees, including Patient Safety, Ethics, and Patient and Caregiver Education, and participate in focus groups to discuss new hospital initiatives. In addition, patient and family advisors are involved in hospital-wide events such as the Performance Improvement Fair, Patient Safety Week, and Survivorship Day.

For more information please call the Department of Volunteer Resources at 212-639-5980.

Becoming a Patient-to-Patient or Patient and Family Advisor Volunteer

If you are a former patient or caregiver, you have the opportunity to serve in the Patient-to-Patient Support Program or the Patient and Family Advisor Program. You must have completed active treatment and be in remission for at least one year. If you are a caregiver, you must no longer be caring for a patient in active treatment. Training for prospective volunteers focuses on learning effective communication techniques and ways to draw upon your own experiences to support the needs of patients and their caregivers. Learn more about volunteering at Memorial Sloan Kettering.