Community Matters: The Impact of Support on Cancer

Matt Davey
March 31, 2023

Cancer impacts everyone.

Most people reading this will understand from personal experience or indirectly from someone they know or love.

From diagnosis and treatment, through to the 'aftermath' and idea of being a survivor - a word widely disliked by the cancer community because of negative connotations around the concept. It's important to acknowledge the health journey as a whole.

... but what happens next? After the diagnosis, treatment and chaos of 'having cancer'. How can someone reintegrate into daily life - work, exercise, socialising?


Community engagement plays a crucial role in helping cancer patients (consumers) maintain good mental health and reintegrate to work, relationships, and lifestyle following a diagnosis.

Outside of your medical team/support professions, your friends and family, or work colleagues are a part of your 'cancer journey' and can impact the way you cope and navigate the process.

Finding support is key.

For many people, they may struggle to find the right social support or a workplace that understands and accommodates their diagnosis. This can be challenging and lead to frustrations or added pressures when navigating already unknown territory.

It's important to remember that there are always options. Through research or trial and error, you can focus on finding the right fit (for the support and connection you need personally).


Community Engagement & Cancer Patients:

Community engagement focuses on involving consumers in social, recreational and support activities (outside of direct medical care). Often these can be group-based, and in the form of support group, exercise classes or educational programs. Other ways can include personal hobbies or volunteering. Being a part of these types of activities can help provide a sense of purpose, connection and support, whilst reintegrating into daily life.

Finding like-minded people can help with processing an individual's' health journey and reconnect socially in a safe environment.

Often, medical professionals (if proactive) will suggest or instigate these opportunities, or existing social supporters may suggest community engagement as a way forward. Having access to a wider community and personalised activities provides independence and structure for many.

Why Community Engagement is Key?

Sometimes, the idea of getting back into daily life or socialising can be overwhelming for someone managing cancer. However, it is important to recognise the benefits and outcomes that exist from engaging and building a network over time.

1. Improved Mental Health Outcomes

Cancer can take a significant toll on a person's mental health, causing anxiety, depression, and social isolation. Community engagement can help mitigate these negative mental health outcomes by providing cancer patients with a sense of purpose, belonging, and social support. Studies have shown that cancer patients who participate in community engagement activities have improved psychological well-being, less anxiety, and depression compared to those who do not engage in these activities.

2. Reintegration to Work, Relationships, and Lifestyle

Cancer diagnosis and treatment can lead to significant disruptions in a person's work, relationships, and lifestyle. Community engagement can help cancer patients reintegrate into these areas of their lives by providing them with opportunities to connect with others who are going through similar experiences, share coping strategies, and learn new skills that can help them navigate these challenges. By participating in community engagement activities, cancer patients can gain a sense of control over their lives and rebuild their confidence in their ability to engage in these areas of their lives.

3. Improved Physical Health Outcomes

Community engagement activities, such as exercise classes or outdoor recreational activities, can also have physical health benefits for cancer patients. Regular physical activity has been shown to improve cancer-related fatigue, increase energy levels, and improve overall physical functioning. In addition, community engagement activities that focus on healthy eating or stress reduction can also have physical health benefits that can complement medical treatment.

4. Access to Support Resources

Community engagement activities can also provide cancer patients with access to support resources that they may not have otherwise. For example, cancer support groups can provide patients with a safe and supportive environment to discuss their experiences and connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Educational programs can also provide patients with access to valuable information about cancer and its treatment that can help them make informed decisions about their care.


Navigating a cancer diagnosis ia a huge challenge for anyone - impacting mental health and overall quality of life. Community engagement plays a vital role in helping maintain an element of control over the health journey, mental wellbeing and lifestyle. By providing cancer patients with opportunities to connect with others, find a sense of purpose, and access support resources, community engagement can help build resilience, improve their overall well-being, and live fuller lives.

Community is key!

Thanks for reading.

Be Well,

Matt | Co-Founder at Mend

*Please note that I am not a medical professional. All insights are from my personal experience with cancer, and as a health-focused founder.