Coping with a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, frightening, and confusing. There are many unknowns that may make you feel anxious and uncomfortable, from understanding what treatment will be like for you and your loved one to dealing with changes in health. Talking to one of the compassionate, trained volunteers in our Patient and Caregiver Support Program can often help.
This peer-support program connects you and your caregivers one-on-one with people who’ve been through a similar cancer diagnosis, treatment and/or caregiving experience, who understand your challenges and worries. Our volunteers listen, talk, and offer confidential support before, during, and after cancer treatment. All MSK patients and caregivers are eligible to participate.
Speaking with a patient or caregiver volunteer does not take the place of care from your clinical team, but it does add to your support network.
Who We Are
Our volunteers are cancer survivors and caregivers who have completed specialized training. They speak with current patients and caregivers face-to-face or via telephone, and are dedicated to supporting you along your journey.
How We Can Help
All support is:
- strictly confidential
- given by trained MSK patients and caregivers
- based on someone’s personal experience
- free and available when needed
- matched based on diagnosis, age, gender, and other factors that might be important to you and your family, to the best of our abilities
Patients, families, and volunteers often discuss topics including:
- coping with a cancer diagnosis
- coping with the demands of caregiving
- preparing for an appointment
- navigating family and work-life balance
- making treatment-related decisions
- quality of life during and after cancer
- advocating for your needs
- navigating the medical system
- available resources
These conversations can take place in person, over the phone, or via email. Patients and family members consistently tell us they find the experience to be enriching, therapeutic, and healing. All conversations are private and remain confidential.
How to Connect
Any member of your clinical team can also make a referral on your behalf. A match is usually made within 48 hours, when possible.
How to Become a Volunteer
If you are a former MSK patient or caregiver, you can be a member of this valuable program. Former patients must have completed active treatment and be in remission for at least one year. Caregivers 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.