Surviving cancer is a challenge regardless of the diagnosis. There are few places for survivors to speak about, to learn about, or to acknowledge and celebrate their cancer survivorship.
The Vermont Cancer Survivor Network (VCSN) defines “survivorship” as living with cancer from the moment of diagnosis through the rest of life. VCSN is a voice for survivors and survivorship. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for anyone living with cancer by providing programs of support, information and education; celebrating cancer survivorship; advocating for cancer survivors and collaborating with related institutions and organizations.
Our first project was to conduct a focus group study of Vermont’s cancer survivors. The most critical finding of this research was that cancer patients want support, yet the need for support for cancer survivors was largely unmet in the state. In most rural areas there are no active support groups, and in many rural areas the support groups are restricted to the most common cancers. Participants in the focus groups described other cancer survivors as giving a kind of support that can only be provided by one who had been through it. Survivors want to help other survivors receive the support that they did not receive.
To address this VCSN developed and created the Kindred Connections program offering peer support for cancer survivors. This program, recognized by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) started with 20 volunteers in two groups and has grown to over 150 volunteers in 7 distinct community groups. To learn more, click on the Kindred Connections tab above.
Vermont is a small state that depends upon collaborative relationships to strengthen and advance the mission and goals of non-profit organizations. In a short period of time VCSN is excelling in this area. We are collaborating with hospital clinical champions in Chittenden, Franklin, Orleans and Washington counties to work with the Kindred Connections program. VCSN is working with University of Vermont researchers on the Cancer Survivor Community Study, an NCI -funded project that created a Cancer Survivor Registry. This project has led to a survey of unmet needs which will be used to focus our future efforts.
We hope you’ll check our web pages and consider joining us. Like Us on Facebook.
Looking for Support?
If you’d like to talk to another cancer survivor who’s been through it and knows what it’s like, please, call us.