Cancer Harbors for Family, Caregivers, and Friends of Someone With Cancer

Cancer Harbors for Family, Caregivers, and Friends of Someone With Cancer
January 29, 2016 Alene Nitzky

Together We CAN

You’ve probably felt helpless at times watching your loved one struggle with the difficulties, discomfort, and pain of cancer treatment. And you probably didn’t always know what to do.

The problem is, when cancer treatment is over, it’s not really over for the patient. It takes time to recover, to re-think how life will be going forward, and decide how they want that to be.

Recovery begins after they finish that last surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, and recovery can be just as challenging, and longer-lasting than treatment. The survivor needs support at this time, relief from the fatigue of a recovering body and from the stress of the expectations they place on themselves and from others’ expectations of them.

What you should know as you support them after treatment:

  • Being declared cancer-free doesn’t mean everything is okay for them, not even when their hair grows back.
  • Returning to doctors’ offices, appointments, for tests and scans, or to cancer centers and hospitals with reminders of the cancer patient experience can be stressful and anxiety-provoking for both the survivor and their loved ones.
  • Relationships, work, routines, and roles change again after treatment, and priorities may change, for the survivor, caregivers, and family.
  • Returning to full function- socially, physically, at work, and at home, can be a difficult transition after treatment.

Developed by a professional health coach with a broad range of expertise: educator, oncology nurse, fitness and cancer exercise trainer, Cancer Harbors coaching taps into physical, emotional, social and functional needs to help the survivor restore, gain, and hone the skills they need to feel better and have more energy.

Based on frequent health learning needs in self-care: reducing the chance of a cancer recurrence, and managing lasting effects of treatment, Cancer Harbors coaching methodology pairs informative topics with skill-building activities and suggestions for exploration, helping survivors set reasonable goals that can be adjusted over the course of recovery.

Cancer survivorship coaching is ideal from the end of treatment, through a year beyond, but it can be started any time after diagnosis. Coaching sessions are an excellent gift to support someone who has come through treatment and is entering the anxiety-filled time of leaving the watchful eyes of their cancer treatment team.

Purchasing our cancer survivorship coaching sessions are a great way to contribute to help someone with cancer directly, in a way that truly meets their individual needs, rather than not knowing where your funds are going.  By supporting the person in your life with cancer in their efforts to recover their health, they will feel better sooner than if they tried to go it alone. Everyone around the survivor benefits as a result, including you.

Cancer Harbors is a comprehensive coaching service addressing all of the survivor’s needs so that the person receives support for the whole picture, not just little pieces, one appointment at a time. Well-being doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it is interconnected with all aspects of one’s quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it needed in addition to a survivorship care plan from the doctor?

  • A typical survivorship care plan medicalizes the follow-up care after treatment. The medical follow-up care of scans, tests, labs, and screenings is important. Cancer Harbors users are encouraged to stick to their doctors’ recommendations regarding these guidelines. These are important in early detection of recurrence and treatment of any physical issues that may arise.Doctors and nurses are focused on taking care of patients in treatment, and often do not have the skills or time to teach behavioral interventions and work closely to meet the survivor’s specific needs. They may also be unaware of resources for survivors in their own communities.
  • Not only are there lasting physical effects, but cancer impacts a person’s emotional, mental, occupational health, social relationships and roles, priorities, functional ability, and everyday living. While these dimensions of healing are sometimes mentioned briefly in the survivorship care plan, the patient is rarely given guidance, direction, or a referral to specific resources.
  • Cancer Harbors directs the survivor to the appropriate resources more promptly, without the delay, frustration, and miscommunication of general survivorship care plans. It facilitates communication between the survivor and their doctors, for a better outcome from follow-up appointments.
  • Cancer Harbors is not a medical treatment plan. It is not a “fix”. It helps the survivor build skills, knowledge, and support for recovery from lasting effects of treatment, helps them reframe goals and priorities, and get what they need for support in all areas of their lives that have been affected by cancer. It provides guidance for action, with checklists, activities, and the best resources to seek out when issues persist. It addresses health learning needs around reducing risk of cancer recurrence, managing fatigue, cognitive function, sleep, rest, and energy.


When should it be used?

Cancer Harbors is ideally designed for use within the first year, up to two years out of treatment, but it can be used at any time. It is not recommended for use during treatment because many of the recommendations can be incompatible with your medical needs and the unpredictable response of your body to treatment. For breast cancer survivors, for example, it is recommended during maintenance therapy, such as ongoing endocrine therapy like Tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors, or while anticipating further reconstructive surgeries.

Where can it be used?

You can use Cancer Harbors in the privacy of your home, on your laptop, tablet or phone when it’s convenient for you. You don’t need any special equipment, even for the exercise portions.

What does Cancer Harbors provide?

  • Downloadable pdf files on a variety of topics (updated with evidence-based recommendations), skill-building activities, recommendations for action
  • Access to a library of exercise videos all of which you can do at home with ordinary household items, no special exercise equipment needed.
  • Support via videoconferencing
  • Newsletter
  • Tips on where to find the resources you need in your own community.

Give the Gift of Cancer Harbors

If you want to give a meaningful, lasting gift to the cancer survivor in your life, don’t just “buy pink”. Buy personal, and professional. Doesn’t your loved one deserve the help and reassurance during this uncertain and difficult transition?

Have you helped the person in your life with cancer today?

— John J. Garnand, Author of Cancer Caregiver Roles: What You Need To Know