Many women affected by cancer say they don’t want to burden their loved ones with their thoughts or worries about their cancer. With so many people understandably concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic and its ongoing impact, you might be feeling even more pressure to put on a brave face. This can leave you feeling even more isolated.
May is one of the Counterpart Peer Support Volunteers who is working from home at this time making calls to women experiencing breast or a gynaecological cancer. She shared her thoughts on how she is able to help the women she talks to.
‘Peer support means using my experience to help someone in a similar situation. I can walk alongside someone who has experienced cancer to comfort and help them as I have walked along a similar path. It might be their first time diagnosed with cancer or they may have been on the path before and just want someone to listen to their story.
Right now, peer support is especially important, as many of us are feeling the effects of isolation. I think Counterpart Peer Support Volunteers can help because we know what it is like to have cancer, and we can give women a space to talk through their feelings or worries.
Feelings of uncertainty and a sense of being even less in control may be magnified at this time.
Someone undergoing treatment may feel concerned about infection with their already low immunity. Telehealth is assisting women in receiving medical care, but some have found they miss the extra emotional support and comfort they get from a face-to-face appointment.
Separation from support systems due to social isolation measures may be distressing for some who cherish every moment they have with their loved ones. Their regular care may also be disrupted at this time. With virtual meetings, the healing power of touch is unfortunately restricted.
The women I speak with as a Peer Support Volunteer can see that we survived through the tough times and 'live to tell the tale’. It can give them hope when they see that we are living well after the experience.
Many also want to share the war stories as well as the good news stories to really feel that they are not alone.’