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Facing Forward: Making a Difference in Cancer

  • Posted: 01/20/2011

Facing Forward: Making a Difference in Cancer

“I never thought this could happen, but cancer has actually become a positive force in my life. It has given me a chance to make a difference. Through volunteering, I’ve met some of the most caring and bravest people in the world. Feeling like others need me helps give me the strength to keep on living life fully.”
— Ted, 47, cancer survivor

While some people prefer to put their experiences with cancer behind them, many choose to draw on them to get involved with cancer-related activities. They may feel that there are certain areas or issues where there’s more work to be done. Or perhaps someone helped and inspired them during treatment, and they feel it’s their turn to give to others.

People often feel that they can make a difference in cancer by taking part. They may want to learn how to help their neighbors, join an educational group, run in a race, or be a part of a group that makes decisions about cancer research or programs.

Whether you have cancer or know someone who does, this book has many ideas about ways you can give to others. It’s written for anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer or affected by it in some way. There are many options for people to choose from: giving support, helping with outreach and education, fundraising, and raising awareness about research or public health issues.

This book may help you:

  • Decide if you want to get involved and volunteer to help others. Some people are ready right now, while others may choose to devote their energy later. You will need to decide if you’re willing to commit your energy and if the time is right for you to start something new.

  • Hear what others have done to take part. The book has many quotes from people who have taken part in cancer-related activities. We hope they will interest and inspire you.

  • Choose activities that interest you. This book can help you find things you might like to do. It also has ideas about ways you can put your interests, talents, and skills to good use.

Read this book when the time is right for you. You might want to read only the chapters that interest you now, and then read more later. Or, you may just want to share it with a friend or family member.

Terms used in this booklet

Cancer survivor. A person is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis onward. Survivors can also be family members or caregivers of people treated for cancer. Not everyone likes the term survivor, but we use it to help people think about their lives as more than just a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer-related activity. This refers to any activity that helps others in their cancer experience. This may be a one-time event, like talking on the phone to someone who has cancer. Or it could be done on a regular basis, such as volunteering at a cancer center. It can also be a more long-term activity, like planning a cancer awareness program where you live.

Advocate. This is someone who supports, speaks in favor of, or offers suggestions on specific causes. There are many ways to be an advocate, such as being a peer support person, volunteering in a hospital, fundraising, or doing things at a national level.

“My cancer treatment was years ago. At first, I wanted nothing to do with the disease. I wouldn’t even read a magazine that had an article about cancer. Now, I’m ready, and I want to help others with my experience.”
— Frieda, 72, cancer survivor