What a Great Cancer Support Team Looks Like


Part of my support team.
Part of my support team.

A spontaneous group hug from The Littles—can you count all four heads?—took place at the train station in New Jersey after hanging out with the youngest of my support team members. (The Teens, of course, are way too cool to do group hugs. Not that either of them were even out of bed when this photo was taken, this being summer vacation.)

And now I’m in Cincinnati at a writers’ and speakers’ association conference. Fabulous keynote speakers; an interesting panel discussion; a ‘state of the industry’ address; informative break-out sessions on marketing techniques, income streams, creating webinars and podcasts.

Best of all, though, I’ve met some really great women in the industry. Sistahs who get my addiction to writing, willing to share their creative ideas.

So what does a really great support team look like?

  1. Sometimes a support team will look like family members. And sometimes the support you get from them comes from giving to them. While I was in Jersey, The Parents left town for a few days. My gift to them. But all my kids and grands have given me so much more. Creative solutions that allowed me to take an early retirement. Believing in me, encouraging me in my passions to write and speak. Best support team ever.
  2. A support community can look like other people who have similar sorrows and pain. One of the last speakers at this weekend’s conference was a woman who lost her husband to Stage IV prostate cancer in 2014. He was given two years of life and lived much longer. Does that sound similar to someone I know and love?! (Hint: Hubby.) I spoke with this woman afterwards to find we have several other things in common — i.e., wondering if we had grieved correctly because neither of us had fallen into any deep, dark holes. We have promised to keep in touch.
  3. Definitely a support community will look like other people who share your obsessions interests. Like the writers and speakers I met in Cincinnati. Like women with yarn and knitting needles seated around a café table. Or hikers with backpacks and trekking poles. One of the things that keeps me out of therapy is getting up into the Cascades near my home. And when you combine getting outdoors with a group of fellow hikers, snow-shoers or kayakers, well then … support and stress relief in spades.
  4. Sometimes your best support may come from people who offer critique. I recently submitted the first three chapters of my book to a panel of judges. And in return, I got some excellent encouragement and critique. I’m jazzed to return home and do some re-writing of my book. Yes, my book needs some re-writing. And I wouldn’t have known this had I not taken the risk of letting someone I don’t know into my life who cared enough to offer support through their area of expertise.

Support teams. Accountability groups. Coaches. Cheerleaders. We all need them. Because we’re better together. Because, from time to time, we’ll need courage. And from time to time, others will need our courage. Because we weren’t meant to do life alone.

 What about you? What does your support team look like?


Marlys was the care giver of her husband Gary who lived ten years after being diagnosed with late stage prostate cancer. After his diagnosis, together they founded a non-profit called Cancer Adventures, sharing their story with groups across the country. After Gary’s death in 2014, Marlys has continued to share the underlying theme of her and her husband’s story: How challenges are a part of life but you have choices. She has a passion for helping people navigate life’s challenges, having negotiated a few herself

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