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Friday, June 12, 2009

I have a friend who understands: Friendship among cancer survivors

Cori Liptak's story [excerpted from this article on Cori Liptak’s work]:

Survivorship and treatment completion pose their own challenges. Brain tumor survivors struggle with multiple medical, cognitive, and physical challenges. These impact school, work and friendships; many struggle socially. To help meet some of these challenges, I've started a program called STEPS (Success Through Education, Psychosocial Support and Socialization) that holds a dinner once a month for brain tumor survivors and their caregivers. Patients know that they're going to see people who are like them and understand what they're going through, which is what has made people come every month. As part of the program, we took a group of brain tumor survivors to Project Adventure, where they worked as a team to overcome challenging tasks like climbing a tree and walking across a wire. One girl who is legally blind wanted to try the task, and the group worked together to help her get up the ladder and to the tree. They did this solely with communication and absolute trust, and it was successful because they all really care for each other. These are people who have established friendships outside of Dana-Farber. Once you've seen a patient connect with another patient and be able to say, "I have a friend who understands," the power of that type of success goes beyond anything I can really describe.

Advice: Find friends who have survived the same crises you did.

Thanks to Cori Liptak, PhD, for the source article in the Fall/Winter 2008 issue of Paths of Progress, a Dana-Farber newsletter, edited by Dawn Stapleton.

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