Professional cancer coaches can vary widely in terms of the type of support offered and their collective experience and expertise.
I’ve created a list covering core attributes across vital areas, to consider when selecting an integrative, holistic cancer coach.
Not every cancer coach has expertise in all of the areas captured below. Depending on your unique situation, it is likely you would not benefit from support in each and every area mentioned.
The following will provide guidance as you consider hiring a coach to help navigate your journey.
Well-developed listening skills to really hear and appreciate a client’s unique situation.
Recognized, and significant, documented expertise and experience as a top coach, with client references and testimonials to provide the confidence you are making the right choice.
The ability to meet a client at whatever stage they are at in their personal journey—and stay attuned to their emotional and medical needs, always with a high awareness of their changing priorities.
The skill to inform and motivate a person living with cancer, regardless of the specific diagnosis and prognosis.
The capability to teach the concept of organizing a cancer ‘A-Team’, which leads to an empowered client who is an active advocate and delegator in their own self-healing.
An extensive understanding of modern conventional cancer treatment and supportive care, and well-versed with NCCN guidelines.
Broad resources to assist clients in accessing expert academic opinions at major cancer center(s). These super-specialized clinicians and researchers focus on a specific tumor type, including common and most rare types of cancers. They are part of an elite group of NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.
Expertise in cancer survivorship and evidence-based/informed integrative oncology approaches.
Well-versed in the area of lifestyle approaches, shown to strengthen immune function, reduce deleterious side effects of conventional therapies, and improve quality of life, including: diet, exercise, stress reduction, hydration, sleep, and limiting exposure to environmental toxins,
Access to resources to identify: suitable experimental therapies, off-label, repurposed, and generic drug therapies; clinical trials potentially viable for specific situations.
Broad national contacts and connections in the conventional private and academic cancer community.
Extensive national contacts and connections in the private and academic integrative oncology community.
A thorough, empathetic understanding of the unique complexities that can negatively impact the wellbeing of someone living with cancer—and potential solutions and/or referrals to address each, including:
- Chronic emotional distress, depression, and anxiety.
- Financial distress: process and options to negotiate medical bills and devise payment plans; health insurance appeals for coverage of procedures or therapy(ies); national organizations that provide funding to those living with cancer.
- Sexual health changes and recovery.
- Relationship challenges.
Before you commit to hiring an integrative, holistic cancer coach, make sure your needs and expectations are aligned with what your prospective coach can actually deliver. Look for their long and documented track record of successfully delivering high quality information, resources, and guidance to those living with cancer and their families.