Cancer Resource Guide
Helpful Places to Turn When Facing a Cancer Diagnosis
NOTE FROM THE WOOLFER: This very helpful resource guide was compiled by a Woolfer while she was undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer.
Ovarian, Breast, & Other Gynecologic Cancers
- T.E.A.L. / Tell Every Amazing Lady — In-person & online resources for women affected by ovarian cancer
- NOCC / National Ovarian Cancer Coalition — In-person & online resources for women affected by ovarian cancer
- SHARE Cancer Support — In-person & online resources for women affected by ovarian & breast cancers
- Sharsheret — Free support services & resources for women with breast & ovarian cancers and the genetic predispositions to them
- FORCE / Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered — Information & resources about hereditary cancer & genetic cancer risk
- The Breasties — Free wellness retreats & events locally and nationwide for women affected by breast & reproductive cancers: fighters, survivors, & previvors (Check out the New York Breasties Facebook Group for local events in the NYC area.)
- Steps Through OC — Six-month program of free professional counseling, education, referrals, & resources for women with ovarian cancer and their family members & caregivers. I have not personally used this service but it looks like a wonderful program.
Resources for Women With Cancer
- Mary’s Place by the Sea — Offers free two-day, two-night stays for women with cancer and for up to one year after completing treatment at their retreat center on the Jersey Shore
General Cancer Resources
- Cleaning for a Reason — Provides free home cleanings for women, men, & children undergoing treatment for any type of cancer
- CancerCare — Free counseling, education, support services, & resources in-person and online
- Gilda’s Club NYC — Free support groups, lectures, workshops, & resources for cancer patients, survivors, & caregivers. This chapter is in NYC but there are Gilda’s Club locations nationwide; Google to find one in your area.
- Triage Cancer — Provides free education on the practical and legal issues that may impact people diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers, through events, materials, & resources
The following three books are great to read when you first get diagnosed as they provide a wonderful, helpful overview. (They also happen to be my three favorite books about cancer.) However, they are a wealth of information at any phase of your diagnosis and treatment.
- Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD
- Cancer As a Wake-Up Call by M. Laura Nasi, MD
- Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips by Kris Carr
The Road to Survivorship
- Love, Medicine, & Miracles by Bernie S. Siegel, MD
History of Cancer
- The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Diet & Nutrition
I see a nutritionist individually who specializes in working with cancer patients and survivors. The infusion center that I went to for chemo offers this service of nutritional counseling sessions for free for their patients. I recommend inquiring with your hospital and infusion center to see if they offer this benefit. I also did a lot of my own research into what the optimal diet and nutrition is for cancer patients and survivors. But there is so much information out there with different sources saying this or that diet is the absolute best way to eat if you have or have had cancer, and what is best really varies so much from person to person, depending on many factors including the particular type of cancer you have. Therefore I’ve found that working with a nutritionist one-on-one has been invaluable. Additionally, here are some books & resources that I’ve found helpful:
- Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr — She is a proponent of a strict vegan diet which is too extreme and restrictive for me (I love cheese and ice cream!), but this book provides a good overview of healthy, plant-based eating, and includes some delicious, easy recipes in the back.
- The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz — More than just a cookbook, this book is a guide to what and how to eat when undergoing cancer treatment. It includes a lot of information at the beginning about nutrition and healthy diet for cancer patients, and the best part is there’s a chart that breaks down which recipes to eat based on what treatment side effects you’re experiencing. I tried one recipe from this cookbook and it was a bit too involved for my liking, but if you like to cook — or have friends and family members who like to cook who you can assign these recipes to! — it’s a good thing to have on-hand, and a helpful, informative resource in general.
- Instagram — I did not really cook before I was diagnosed with cancer and essentially taught myself to cook after my diagnosis. I get a lot of inspiration and ideas for recipes on Instagram. I just started following a few healthy food bloggers and plant-based recipe creators etc. (e.g. @spinach4breakfast, @plantbasedjane, @sweetsimplevegan, & @downshiftology), and then Instagram started serving me sponsored posts for more and more of them 😊 I created a “Collection” called Recipes on Instagram and save recipe posts to that for future reference.
- Yoga4Cancer (y4c) — Free research-based yoga classes developed for people going through cancer treatment, and available for cancer patients and survivors and their caregivers. Classes are offered across the United States and in Canada, and you can search on their website for a location near you. If you are Brooklyn-based, there’s a weekly y4c class at Park Slope Yoga Center.
- LIVESTRONG Program at the YMCA — Free customized exercise program for cancer survivors. I have not personally done this yet but it’s on my list to check out. (The first link is for the nationwide program & this is the link for the Livestrong Program at the YMCA in New York City locations.)
Headcovers Unlimited — Makes really soft, comfortable hats and caps specifically designed for people dealing with hair loss from cancer treatment.
Nontoxic Personal Care & Household Products
- You can search the Environmental Working Group’s databases of beauty & personal care products and cleaning products to learn more about their ingredients and check ratings for levels of toxicity.
- You can also download EWG’s Healthy Living app (free on iTunes & Google Play) to scan products as you’re shopping to find out their ingredients and ratings.
I use the Medisafe app (free on iTunes & Google Play) to remind me to take my medications and track that I’ve taken them. I also keep a written log of when I take my medications and what side effects I experience and when.
Work & Career Issues
Cancer & Careers — Free career support services, education, resume review, and workshops for cancer patients and survivors. They host an annual national conference in New York City, as well as conferences in other cities across the US throughout the year.
Resources to Make Your Life Easier
I did not personally use either of these sites but they are helpful tools for coordinating care during cancer treatment, especially if you can get a friend or family member to set one up for you and manage it.
Instagram Accounts to Follow
There is a vibrant, robust cancer community on Instagram and I have connected there with a lot of inspiring, uplifting (and just downright funny because sometimes you just need to laugh) people, organizations, and accounts. Here are some of my favorites:
- @thebreasties — “A place for women who move mountains”
- @thecancerpatient — “A satirical look at life as a cancer patient.” It’s funny because it’s true.
- @thewombtangclan — Young Women vs. Uterine Cancer
- @talk_peach — Raising awareness about gynecologic cancers
- @survivornetfamily — Videos of / short documentaries about cancer survivors & people who work in the cancer field
- @whatnext_cancer — Online support network for cancer patients, survivors, & caregivers
For Caregivers, Friends, & Family Members
”How Not to Say the Wrong Thing” by Susan Silk & Barry Goldman in the LA Times — A helpful guide about how to treat (and not treat!) someone you care about who is going through treatment for cancer