Please read the instructions below (or navigate using the links to the right) to learn more about CancerCare’s Online Support Groups program.

What you can expect of your Online Support Group

CancerCare’s Online Support Community is a private, "subscription only" program. All of our support groups are closed to non-members to ensure confidentiality. Each group is password-protected and only available to subscribed group members after they have completed a brief screening and registration process. Once you have been subscribed to a group you will be able to enter the group space, introduce yourself and start a dialogue with other group members for as long as the group runs, usually up to 3.5 months at a time.

You can access your online support group whenever you want, day or night. However, please understand that communication online is not always immediate and that people may not be online at the same time. Sometimes, people don’t have access to their computers or are unable to post quickly. We do encourage members to respond as soon as they are able.

Our online support groups offer a great way to connect with others who are going through situations like yours. Your fellow group members can be such amazing sources of support and strength. Often members tell us they feel understood, supported and more hopeful as a result of participating in our online support group program.

The key is participation – the more people write to one another in a group, the more they get out of the experience. It helps establish your connections to others when you post regularly (at least once a week). It also helps if you include information about how you are coping with your situation – that will draw other members in to read and reply to your posts. The more information you share with us, the better we can respond to you and get to know you and your situation.

What makes us different from other message boards is that each of CancerCare’s online support groups is facilitated by a professional and licensed oncology social worker. Your group facilitator will be reading all of your posts regularly and will highlight some of the common threads he/she sees within your conversations with one another. Your facilitator will reply to unanswered questions and/or concerns as needed, especially if they have not been addressed by other group members within a few days. As an oncology social worker, he/she will be able to offer guidance or relevant resources that may be helpful to the group. Additionally, your group facilitator will be able to connect you with a primary social worker at CancerCare should you need more individualized, one-to-one support.

While we understand that the medical treatments themselves are a big part of your experiences, CancerCare’s Online Program can not endorse any specific treatments. We encourage you to always speak with your medical team about the specifics of treatment-related information as it relates to you or your loved one. You may notice that when treatment related question arise, we will refer you back to your medical team, and/or to the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service who can help you learn what types of questions to ask your medical team. In addition, you can always contact an oncology social worker at CancerCare (toll free: 800‑813‑HOPE (4673)) to discuss how you can enhance your communication with your medical team and to get more individual support for yourself. Our helpline is open Mondays to Thursdays 9am to 7pm and Fridays 9am to 5pm EST.

CancerCare’s Online Support Group Registration Process

CancerCare’s Online Support Community is a private, “subscription only” program. All of our support groups are closed to non-members to ensure confidentiality. In order to become a member of a group, we ask that you select the group that best meets your needs. You may only participate in one group at a time. There is an exception to this for people who choose to participate in the assignment-based, creative writing workshop called Healing with Words. Individuals participating in Healing with Words may also participate in a patient or post-treatment support group. A CancerCare oncology social worker will follow up with you as part of our registration and assessment process.

Once you have chosen a support group, created a username and password, and submitted answers to our assessment questions, a CancerCare social worker will review what you’ve shared. (see How to become a member of our Online Support Community). We want to ensure that our service will meet your needs and when necessary, we may refer you to other resources and supports. In addition, please note that some groups may not start right away while we await registrations from other members. We will keep you informed about any waiting period that might occur before the group starts, or before you are allowed to join.

CancerCare is currently offering rolling membership into our online support groups. Groups run for 3.5 month cycles, and stop accepting new members a month before the group end date. There is a short break before the groups open for the new cycle. Our groups run on a trimester schedule, each cycle lasting 15 weeks. This gives the members an opportunity to form a more cohesive dialogue with a beginning, middle and end. New members are accepted into the groups up until one month before the groups end. Once the groups end for the trimester, they go on a 2-week hiatus until the new trimester begins. If you request to join a group that is not currently accepting new members, you will be placed on a waitlist for the next cycle of the group you have requested.

We currently offer groups in the following three categories: patient groups, caregiver groups and support groups for the bereaved. For more specific instructions on how to request the support group of your choice, please read the How Select an Online Support Group & Update Your Profile thread. If you are unsure which group best meets your needs, please contact us at We are here to help.

*A note about registering for our Online Bereavement Support Groups: CancerCare believes our online bereavement support groups are most helpful for people 4 weeks to 2 years after their loss. If your loved one has recently died, we encourage you to contact one of our social workers for more individualized support and assistance by calling us toll-free at 800‑813‑HOPE (4673) or via email at

How to become a member of our Online Support Community

  1. Log on to to access CancerCare’s Online Support Community.
  2. Click on the "Register" link on the upper right hand corner of the main screen.
  3. Read Terms of Service and click the appropriate button to agree or disagree.
  4. When prompted, create a Username and Password for your account, enter your email address, choose a group from the dropdown list, and click "Continue".
  5. You will then be asked to share general information about yourself like home address as well as additional details about your or your loved one’s medication situation and hopes for participating in an online group. These responses will be submitted for a social worker’s review. Please allow up to two business days for a response.
  6. The CancerCare social worker will then approve you for participation in an online group, or refer you to other forms of service at CancerCare or elsewhere that might suit your needs at this time.
  7. If you have a spam blocker on your email account please set it to recognize our

When will I gain access to the group I requested to join?

Only after you’ve completed the registration process and received approval for online group participation. The approval email will contain instructions and a link to access your online support group as well as group session dates. Please be aware that our online groups run on a trimester basis with a brief 2-week hiatus between sessions. If your group is on hiatus, the access link will not be active until the group session begins. Meanwhile, should you be interested in additional supportive services please do not hesitate to contact us toll-free at 800‑813‑HOPE (4673).

How to Select an Online Support Group & Update Your Profile

Log in:

  1. Click on the "Log In" link on the upper right hand corner of the main screen.
  2. Enter your Username and Password.
  3. Click the "Log In" button.

Request to Join a Group:

  1. Log in as described above.
  2. Click on the "Support Groups" tab on the upper left side of the screen.
  3. Select one group from the drop down menu under to "Available Groups"
  4. From the list of available groups, select the one you want to join.
  5. Click the "Go" button to see more information about the group
  6. Click the “Request to Join” link to request membership in the group, or the Back button to navigate back to the Available Groups List.
  7. If you clicked “Request to Join,” a thank you screen will appear. This puts you on a pending list for the group.
  8. If you have already been approved by a CancerCare social worker for participation in an online group, your request to join a group will be forwarded to the group facilitator. When the group is ready to begin, you will receive an email notification and will be able to start participating in the group. Please select only one group.
  9. We can not accept a new member into a group until your registration process has been completed. Please see the How to become a member of our Online Support Community section for more information regarding the registration process.

Changing Your Settings and Info:

  1. Log in as described above.
  2. Click on the "Your Profile" link on top of the main screen.
  3. Change any information or setting
  4. Click "Submit".
  5. Should you choose to update any of your profile information, it is important that you send an email to inform us of the changes you have made. Thank you!

CancerCare’s Group Participation Guidelines

CancerCare encourages all points of view, but please remember that everyone comes to a group with different experiences and feelings. If something in the group distresses you or makes you uncomfortable, please bring it up in the group or with the group facilitator. Often, when you "voice" your concerns you will find that other group members feel similarly.

The more messages you write, and the more information you share about you and your situation in your posts, the more connected other members will feel to you. Their feelings of connection will show in their responses to you.

When You Participate

  • Please be respectful of the confidential nature of this online program and the messages that you and your fellow members post here.
  • Please help us to know who you are by identifying yourself by your first name at the end of each of your messages. You can also create a signature with your first name that will attach itself to each post.


Online Support Groups and bulletin boards, such as ours, require that we pay attention to our communication styles somewhat differently than if we were talking with each other face to face. That’s because it is easy to misinterpret a comment that is read without the clues of facial expressions, body language and vocal inflections. The list below offers a series of guidelines we call "Netiquette" that can help make your message come across as you had intended. We ask that you take these guidelines into consideration when participating in our online program.

  1. Format

    Your posts can be informal, but they should be thoughtful – take some time to review your note before you post it. Make sure your note is correctly addressed, that it is free of typos and that it says what you mean. Please do not write messages in all CAPITAL letters; this can be perceived as shouting. By visiting the "HELP" section, found in the bar next to "HOME" you will find specific helpful links to bringing creativity to your posts and how to access the many features of this forum.

  2. Sensitivity

    Please consider how someone else may feel when reading your message. While we do encourage all points of views we also need to pay attention to how others may perceive your posts.

  3. Subject Line

    Give your post a meaningful and accurate subject line/title. Not only will this will help everyone to follow the group’s discussion, but it will also draw members in to read and reply to your post.

  4. Using Humor

    We know that laughter is one of the world’s best medicines, and by all means we want you to share what makes you giggle with your fellow members. However, please be very cautious when using sarcasm and humor. Without cues such as voice tone, "subtle" humor can be easily misinterpreted and can sometimes offend others despite the best of intentions. You can help communicate your tone by modifying the color, text size, style and font as well as including "smiley sets", which are the different facial expression icons located just above the dialogue box of your post.

  5. Context and Quotes

    When you are responding to a post you may include the points you are responding to in the text of your reply by quoting or summarizing. However, we ask that you quote only as much as is germane to your reply. Please do not re-post someone else’s message.

  6. Response Time

    Communication online is not always immediate. Sometimes, people don’t have access to their computers or are unable to post quickly. It is our hope that members try to respond as soon as they are able. You will find that your group will be more cohesive and connected to one another if you and your fellow group members read, reply and post new topics regularly (we suggest at least once a week). Being sensitive to response time also includes acknowledging the posts and comments of others. When we interact in person, we include a head nod or a short statement of affirmation or encouragement to signal that we are listening. Since we cannot see or hear each other in this forum, a short post to say that you have popped in and are reading is helpful. Letting the group know that you are thinking about a response and will post later lets the group know that their words are important and being read with care. While we don't have "Like" buttons in this forum, a quick sentence, smiley, or image can communicate interest and your online presence.

  7. Respect Others

    We know that you are all unique and special individuals; that’s what makes our online program so successful. By bringing together differing opinions we become more open to finding new ways to cope with our situations. Please respect the opinions of others even if you do not agree. So, what does this look like? As some examples, using sentences that start with "What has worked for me..." "I feel...when I say/do..." "I believe in/that..." "For me, ...has worked well..." "When I read, I felt/it seemed to me..."

  8. Confidentiality

    Please help us to keep our program a safe space for you and your fellow members. To that end, please do not share your password or the posts from your group with anyone. We welcome new members to our groups regularly. If you know someone who is interested in our online support group program please refer them to the “join an online group” section of our website. We'd like the chance to get to know them just as we have gotten to know you.

    However, under federal and state laws, confidentiality has limitations. If your online group moderator determines that you plan to seriously harm another person or yourself (e.g. planning homicide or suicide), your moderator is required to break confidentiality in order to warn the potential victim and to secure the assistance of others (police, etc) to prevent serious harm to yourself or to others. Similarly, any concerns of significant physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to minors must be reported to authorities. As a licensed social worker, your group moderator is a “mandated reporter” and must abide by these federal and state laws.

  9. Posting About Religion

    Please be respectful of other’s differing belief systems. Across denominations, religion and spirituality can offer a source of solace, strength and hope. This is clearly the case for a number of you. CancerCare’s online programs are offered for members of all religions, denominations and beliefs. Please feel free to share with us how your spirituality has helped you cope. Other members may perceive their own spirituality and religious beliefs differently from yours. Please keep your posts regarding religion and spirituality centered on what helps you cope.

  10. Advertisements

    Please do not advertise any products or private websites in this forum. CancerCare cannot endorse or allow advertisements for any products or commercial resources on our website. Thank you for helping us keep this forum a safe space for you to share your feelings and concerns related to your cancer experience. This includes avatars and photos.

  11. Pictures

    Posting pictures and adding avators are new features of this improved platform. Please be mindful of the size of photo you post, there is a maximum size of 128kb per attachment and 192kb per post for photos. You can also post no more than one picture per post. When choosing an avatar please be mindful of content and size. While you may choose an avatar of which you identify and helps define you, content that may be interpreted as offensive, or sexual in nature will be removed. Additionally, avatars will be removed if they include swearing, offensive or politically negative language, emulate a moderator's signature or avatar, contain advertisements or donation requests or are malicious in nature to the software. CancerCare reserves the right to remove avatars that do not advance the inclusivity and safety of the group.

We know this is a lot of information to absorb all at once, but you will see how quickly you will get the hang of it once you begin posting. This program is designed to be a safe place for you to feel heard, understood and supported. Again, we want to encourage you all to provide feedback throughout this group experience and to directly contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

CancerCare Online Services
800‑813‑HOPE (4673)

How to access your group, read, reply and create posts

How to Access Your Group

  1. Log in.
  2. Your group will appear listed below the Welcome Folder.
  3. Click on the group name.
  4. All of the topic folders for your group appear.

How to Read Posts

  1. Log in.
  2. Go to your group.
  3. Click on a topic folder.
  4. All of the posts for that topic appear.

How to Reply to a Post

  1. Go to your group.
  2. Open a topic folder.
  3. Read the posts.
  4. Click the "Reply" button at the top or bottom of the thread.
  5. Type the message you would like to post.
  6. Format the post if you choose.
  7. Click "Preview" to review your post.
  8. Click "Post" to post your post.

How to Create a New Topic

  1. Log in.
  2. Go to your group.
  3. Click the "New Topic" button.
  4. Type the message you would like to post.
  5. Format the post if you choose.
  6. Click "Preview" to review your post.
  7. Click "Post" to post your post.

What to do when you feel you may be in crisis

CancerCare does not provide 24 hour services nor do we have a 24 hour hotline. This makes us unable to handle requests for immediate help in crisis situations, such as if you are feeling suicidal or in need of immediate assistance due to emotional crisis. If you are feeling like you are in crisis and want immediate attention please call the following organizations, they can help you.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800-273-TALK (8255)

The National Hopeline Network
800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

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