“To have a laugh and to vent”

Living and working with cancer is a peer support group for working-age persons living in Finland.

All cancer survivors in this age group are welcomed to join, also those who are not working currently or are outside labour force for now. The group started, as so many of our activities do, through a suggestion by an active participant in the Me, Cancer and Work project.

What peer support is good for? This is what some of our participants said: 

“After my brain tumor diagnosis, I didn’t see the point in joining a support group. After a few months, though, I was introduced to a friend of a friend who also has a brain tumor and realized it’s actually quite cathartic to talk to people who have gone through many of the same experiences. Besides the typical ‘I’m so sorry’ you get from close friends, it’s refreshing to discuss details with people who are coping just like yourself.” 

“I joined the group at a time when I did not know anyone in Finland dealing with a cancer situation at a young age. (I still don’t as I do not have much contact with other patients at the hospital. Only with the nurses). I had so many questions on pretty much everything (symptoms, treatments, support services, palliative care, hospice). Everything was new and overwhelming.”  

A few months in, I believe that I am handling the situation better now. I’d like to provide support to others if I can, or simply chat with fellows who might be dealing with similar issues. Have a laugh, vent, or discuss potential future activities.” 

We hope that our group provides a friendly and supportive environment to do just that: to exchange experiences, to laugh and to vent. Due to the corona virus situation, the group meets online, and we warmly welcome participants from all over Finland. According to our information, this is currently the only English-speaking cancer peer support group in the country.  To join the group, you don’t have to be a native English speaker. All you need is a will to talk about life with or after cancer in English, and that you reside in Finland. As said, the group is aimed at working-age persons, but you do not have to be working currently. However, the group is related to the Work and Cancer project, so if you have questions concerning returning to work, we’ll be happy to discuss those issues as well. 

For more information or to sign up for the group, kindly contact Marketta (marketta.liljestrom@syopapotilaat.fi / 045-1046509). All the dates for the group are listed in our current events

Marketta Liljeström

The writer works as a coordinator in the Me, cancer and work project and facilitates the group together with colleague Mari Bergman.