Support and Resources

Cancer affects more than your body. It has an impact on your whole life. Many people who have had cancer find that talking with a professional counselor or therapist can be very helpful. Health care providers are the experts in treating cancer, but you are the expert in the way cancer affects your life. Counselling can help you to find strength and meaning. It can also help you cope, adjust, and find solutions to problems. You can go to counselling on your own or with members of your family.

There is a psychosocial cancer team at the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre for people who have been diagnosed and treated for cancer anywhere in the province of Nova Scotia. The team provides counselling to colon cancer patients & their families. Team members include psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses and spiritual care providers. Support can be provided to you by phone or in person. Although you may be medically discharged from the Cancer Program, the psychosocial cancer team is still available to help you. For more information, call: 902-473-6067 (Nova Scotia Cancer Centre).

If you live in Sydney, please call the social worker at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre at 902-567-8551.
If you live outside Halifax and Sydney, check with your cancer patient navigator, social worker or health care provider to find out about services in your district. To reach your local cancer patient navigator please call

Private Medical Insurance and Employee Assistance Programs
Counselling is also covered under some private insurance plans (i.e. Blue Cross). There may be a yearly maximum as to how much your plan will pay. Contact your insurer for the details specific to your plan.

As well, many employers offer Employee Assistance Plans which offer a limited number of free counselling sessions. Please contact your Human Resources department for information.

Support Groups
A support group is a group of people with similar problems or concerns. Support groups meet on a regular basis. There are many different cancer support groups. Some are for the patients. Others are for the family and/or friends of the patient. Others are open to anyone. Groups may be led by a health care professional or made up completely of peers. You can find support groups that meet face-to-face or online.

It may help to talk with the person running the group to see if the group offers what you need. You may want to check out a few different groups to find one that works best for you. It is hard to know if a support group will be right for you without going to at least two meetings.

A support group should make you feel comfortable enough to talk about what you think and feel. If it does not, speak with the facilitator privately. You may decide it is best not to continue going. Remember that it may take time to find a group that fits.

Find a support group in your area:
 Canadian Cancer Society at 1-800-639-0222 or visit  
 Nova Scotia Cancer Centre in Halifax: 902-473-6067.
 Social Worker at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre Sydney: 902-567-8551.
 Cancer Patient Navigators: 1-866-524-1234.
 Check for posters in your cancer treatment centre.
 Ask people you know who have gone through, or who are currently dealing with cancer themselves

Many people choose online support groups. These groups help people who may not wish to attend a face-to-face group. Be careful when looking for an online group. Anyone with internet access can create an online group, even if they do not have any real experience.

If you are interested in online groups, CancerChatCanada has Canadian cancer care professionals who lead discussion groups. Most are available in any province or territory. You can also contact 211 in Nova Scotia to find local support groups.

After You Ring the Bell…10 Challenges for Cancer Survivor. Anne Katz. Oncology Nursing Society. 2012.

Cancer is a Word Not a Sentence by Dr. Robert Buckman

Life after Cancer. A guide for cancer survivors. Canadian Cancer Society, 2008. or call 1-888-939-3333.

Life After Cancer Treatment. Facing Forward Series. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. 2004.

Living Well after Cancer. A guide for cancer survivors, their families and friends. The Cancer Council New South Wales, February, 2010.

Picking Up the Pieces. Moving Forward after surviving Cancer. Sherri Magee and Kathy Scalzo. Raincoast Books, Rutgers University Press. 2007.

The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide and Cookbook by Jean Lamantia

The Healing Circle by Dr. Timothy Walker and Dr. Rob Rutledge, 2011.

The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

When someone You Love Has Completed Cancer Treatment. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  National Institutes of Health. May, 2010. 

Men Cancer Sex. Anne Katz. 2010. Oncology Nursing Society.

Women Cancer Sex. Anne Katz. 2009. Oncology Nursing Society.

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