NACES - Resource 1st Source
Your First Sources of Help and Support:
Family, Friends, Community

Now that you have made a list of the help and support that you will need for yourself and your family, you can go on to the next step of the process: finding where and how to get those needs met.

Lorecita Quintana
Santo Domingo Pueblo
Dx 1989 Colon Cancer

"One of the things that I found out while I was going through this was the communication, you know, people need to talk, and we did a lot of that while I was going through this."

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Your "list of needs" will help you organize your search for help and support. It will also help communicate with those in your circle of support about what they can do to help you.

Bonnie Craig
Black Feet
Dx 1991 Ovarian Cancer

"After diagnosis, I think what's important is knowing that it's okay to need other people. It's okay to let people take care of you. Sometimes we are humbled by that 'cause we're doers and we're meant to take care of other people and it's a very humbling experience to know that you can't stand at your stove and cook dinner for your family 'cause you're too weak. Or to know if you get in the bathtub you can't get out of there someone's going to have to come in and help you. Or you can't go to the grocery store and whip around and you know, do ten million things like you used to.

It's a complete slow down, so you really have to utilize the support system you have because it's there for you. And it's healthy. There's been a lot of studies done that people that have a strong support system survive longer. So, that's you know, a real strong recommendation."
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Your "list of needs" will help you organize your search for help and support. It will also help communicate with those in your circle of support about what they can do to help you.

Charlene Capps
Caddo / Cheyenne
Dx 1991 Ovarian Cancer

"We had some kind of old fashioned beliefs too, and my sisters helped me with a lot of that and I understood a lot more about the Indian, the way the Indian helped their loved ones get through things. Trying to make them feel better, trying to give them the courage. The family is your foundation, and a lot of inner strength, because you have to do your part too. You can't sit there and wait for somebody to hold your hand the whole time. A lot of inner strength that we don't know where it comes from and we probably don't even think it's there, but it's there, and your family lets you know it's there. You see them hoping and praying for you and just seem to get it. That's what really got me through, I think."

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Even though there are many organizations that are dedicated to helping people who have cancer, the survivors in The Native American Cancer Survivor Network tell us over and over again about the help and support that came to them from family, friends and community members.

Caroline Shubert
(Fish River Inupiaq)
Dx 1988 Breast Cancer

"After having been released from the hospital and I came home, my 11 year old grandson Brian came and stayed with me and took care of me. My children stopped in and would bring some food to eat or else they would cook dinner and then leave and that was fine. I made sure that before I went into to the hospital I had done all the things I didn't, I didn't... for instance want to come home and have to worry about vacuuming. So I cleaned my house, changed my sheets, put everything that I could sort of within easy reach. Dr. Blisher had explained that I wouldn't be able to lift anything over 5 pounds and all like that. So I had deliberately put things I might need, so they would be handy. My niece Ronnie came over a couple of times and fixed dinner. My, children Eddy, Evan, and Tommy they all stopped in and fixed dinner. But it was my 11 year that stayed with me, night and day."

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It is important to remember that cancer does not just affect the person who is diagnosed. No matter how open or how private you choose to be about your cancer, it will affect everyone in your circle of family, friends and loved ones.

People who care about you will want to help you. Many of them will want to help you but not know how to help. People may not know how to show their concern and desire to help. You can help everyone in your circle help you, by talking about your needs.

You can even plan a gathering of family and friends so that you can address people's questions to the best of your ability. You can share your list of needs with them and let them know that you will need their help to get through. Family, friends and your community can be your first and strongest network for getting the help and support you need for your cancer journey.

Dominga Rosetta
Santo Domingo Pueblo
Dx 1991 Breast Cancer

Quote from her granddaughter (Interpreted by Mary Lovato)

"And she had big family meeting with all he relatives here. And she just made everybody cry. They didn't know how to respond to it, they didn't know how they should tell her. All they said is was they wanted to have her live longer, because they felt that cancer would automatically kill her.

And they wanted to encourage her to go to the treatment right away, so they did. And she took her to the doctors constantly for her appointment. And up to now, she feels that her grandmother is doing a lot better and is getting into a lot of things now."

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audio in her Native Tongue

Keep in mind that the Creator gives choices. You can choose to keep your disease to yourself, to try to shield your loved ones, by suffering alone or in silence. Sometimes this approach hurts our loved ones more than it helps them. If you choose to try to shield your loved ones in this way, your family, friends and community may follow your lead and deal with their own pain about your cancer alone, in silence, not knowing how you are doing or how to help you.
Martha Red Willow
Oglala Sioux
Dx 1989 Breast Cancer

"Family, I would say is the most important part of a person's life. My mother was very supportive, she was my nurse, my daughter was my little nurse. She used to sleep on the floor, she'd lay there every little move, >mom, are you okay? Can I do anything for you?' She'd help me take a bath, and I mean, it was, her and my mother were just, just wonderful.

I have friends from many tribes, they were my support, when I was in the hospital, they all came, they had prayers for me, they brought food to the home, their my family, a wonderful spiritual family. Prayers, having faith in God and believing with all your heart, that you can overcome this, it makes you stronger and you're able to support others."
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You can chose to fight the cancer battle fiercely, with the backing of your family, friends and community all doing battle with you at your side. This can be done with honor and bravery knowing your community counts on you for direction in this battle just as you count on their strength, assistance and support.

Maxine Brings Him Back
Oglala Lakota
Dx Cervix 1978 /
Beast Cancer 2002

"women that just came to my house and my significant other he was just a wonderful person throughout this too, who surrounded me and took care of me and mothered me as I went thorugh the post-treatment of this cancer, this breast cancer and they cooked for me, they cleaned all the ... you have to wear this thing on your ... like a drain and they cleaned that for me, they bathed me, they ... you know, in indian community I just truly believe that we are always there for each other and we take care of each other and these women truly exemplified what it is to be a native woman and take care of another sister. To this day, when I think about that, it's just ... I'm just so touched by that, their gift of themselves to be there and they were not cancer patients, survivors, they were just indian women who just came through and were there taking care of me and just mothering me."

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Michael T George Sr.
(Coeur d'Alene)
Dx 2001 Throat Cancer

"Just again I'd like to tell everybody that cancer is a hard disease to live with. I was lucky I had family that' mainly a younger brother that stood right next to me. And questions that I was to be shy to ask or maybe afraid to ask, he'd come right out and ask the doctor, why' why does my brother have to do this. So if you have any member like that that could come forward for you, if you don't feel that you can do this bring that relative and friend or whoever with you. Because they can get a lot of answers that you might be unsure of asking."

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