Two women with short hair laughing togetherGiving back can have a wide-reaching impact on you, those around you and cancer care overall.

Giving back can be driven by a desire to help, by things you are grateful for in your life, or by something you had to struggle through.

  • For some, giving back is viewed as a way of repaying a “debt” for what they have been fortunate to receive.
  • Some find that giving back is a way to address gaps in their own cancer care like being overwhelmed with the news of having cancer, not knowing what to expect or wanting more information and not knowing where to find it.
  • For others, it is a source of hope and courage in overcoming cancer and a sense of purpose in helping others.

Read how some cancer survivors define giving back and why and how they do it.

 

The Meaning of Giving Back

The meaning of giving back is personal. Giving back can mean:

  • Helping ease the fear, pain, confusion and aloneness of another survivor who is going through cancer by sharing your story. 
  • Knowing what would have been helpful to you and doing that for others.
  • Sharing your knowledge and personal experience.
  • Helping others use the health care system in a way that creates positive experiences, builds trusting relationships and leads to health care that is personal and safe.

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Benefits of Giving Back

Giving back can be helpful to the giver and the receiver. Many people give back to help others, but find that they have also gained.

  • For some, it allows them to be more open about what they went through and get in touch with their feelings. 
  • For others, giving someone else hope helps them gain control over their life and look at their experience in a different way.

Survivors have said that telling their story took away the feeling that their life is defined by their cancer experience. They explained that giving back asserts that “You are more than your cancer” and that “I had cancer, but the cancer doesn’t have me”.

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How to Give Back

  • Get involved in volunteer organizations.
  • Give your time to help create support groups.  
  • Join a committee or panel. This can be a useful way to connect, inform, and make lasting changes that will help those in need. 
  • Share your story. The success and challenges you faced are an important source of information for others. This can include supporting others in advocating, sharing what worked and didn’t work for you and services and support you found helpful. 
  • Support others. Connect one-on-one with others living with cancer to develop a relationship and support system. In the words of one survivor: “You are not walking alone. There is a special kind of support that only other cancer survivors can provide.”

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Resources

The resources listed here were added by Michelle Snow, Patient Education Librarian, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and ELLICSR Cancer Survivorship Centre.

  • About Volunteering at UHN
    Our volunteer resources provide our patients, families, visitors and staff with assistance and services to help augment the efforts of caring and busy professional staff. If you are a caring, positive and helpful individual seeking an exciting opportunity, then come and join the health care team at UHN.
  • Ways to volunteer - Canadian Cancer Society [opens in new window]
    Volunteering with the Society is a great opportunity for you to make a positive impact in your community, be part of a team, share your experience, learn new skills and develop lasting friendships.

 

For more information visit the Princess Margaret Patient & Family Library or call 416 946 4501 ext. 5383.

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Last reviewed: 9/11/2018
Last modified: 1/7/2019 8:40 AM