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Frequently Asked Questions

How does this work exactly?

After you have been given a diagnosis of having cancer, you may want to speak with someone who has dealt with that cancer or that kind of treatment. Just call Cancer Connections of SLO County at 805.235.2997. You will speak with either the coordinator or another volunteer. You will be asked some information about your diagnosis, so you can be matched to the appropriate volunteer. Please be assured that this information is completely confidential. You will have no obligations, financial or otherwise to Cancer Connections. The coordinator or volunteer answering the phone will match you to the appropriate volunteer as soon as possible, usually at the same time as your call. You will be given their name and phone number and it will be up to you to call them. Remember that the volunteer has guidelines, which they follow. We are good listeners and are there to give support, but not to give advice, especially medical advice

What if I am too shy to call the person who was given to me as a match?

Usually we give you a few days to call, so that you are in control about when you wish to talk with them. Knowing that some people may be a bit reluctant to impose on someone, our volunteers may give you a call, if they haven’t heard from you. If you do not wish to talk with them, just tell them. Please know that they have volunteered to do this. It is actually a “win-win” situation, as the volunteer gets a lot out of feeling that they are helping and “paying it forward”.

How much self-disclosure must I be willing to make with my volunteer?

This entire idea is based on your comfort and support. You do not have to share anything that you don’t wish to share. What if I don’t want to talk, but just listen to the volunteer’s experience so I can compare it with mine? Again, you don’t have to talk about your situation, if you so choose. The volunteer will share their experiences with you. Please remember they are sharing their experiences. We know that everyone reacts differently to his or her cancer and to such things as losing their hair etc. The volunteers will not give medical advice or tell you what to do. They may suggest little “day to day” tips that worked for them and that you may find helpful.

Will the volunteer maintain their detachment as they permit me to talk about my feelings?

The volunteers are fantastic, positive people. They can have empathy for you, as they have also had cancer, but they won’t be saying “poor you” to you. If you just want them to listen, all you have to do is say so. If you have a bad day and need some cheering up, you just need to tell them. They are there to help you where you are.

After contact, what if I prefer not to continue with a volunteer?

The amount of time you spend is between you and your volunteer. One phone call may do it for you. You may wish to “check in” every once in a while. You may wish to just maintain phone contact, or exchange email addresses to stay in contact that way, or you may wish to meet for coffee etc. If you think your assigned volunteer isn’t the right person for you and you would like to speak with someone else, just call Cancer Connections of SLO County at 805.235.2997 and request a new

Will the volunteer try to introduce me to “alternative” treatments other than what my oncologist has recommended?

The volunteers are to give no medical advice. When they tell you their story they may tell you they used something considered as an “alternative”, but they are not recommending it to you. Your doctor is your source for medical information.

Is religion involved in this program?

No. We do not advocate any particular religion or faith. Again, a volunteer may tell you that their faith helped them deal with their cancer, but it is certainly not the intent to push religion on anyone. In fact in the guidelines that the volunteers promise to adhere there is mention that they should maintain a balanced discussion of coping mechanisms: spirituality, humor, meditation, imagery, recreation,
counseling, group support, relaxation techniques, reading, distracting activities etc. Everyone needs to choose what works for him or her.

What does it take to be a volunteer?

Volunteers are positive people who have had cancer and are willing to talk to others having cancer. You need to agree to the guidelines that will be shared with you when you meet with either the coordinator or another volunteer to sign up.

All you need to do is call the Cancer Connections phone number 805.235.2997 and say you are interested in being a volunteer.

Need support, love or help?

Want to talk to some one about your cancer please
call Cancer Connections at: (805)235-2997

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