Frequently asked questions

1. How do I use this service?

In order to request a call from a trained program volunteer, you will be required to register and create a user account. Registration is free.

2. What is my personal information used for?

The information that you provide to us will be used to facilitate access to telephone-based peer support and for ongoing program evaluation and research purposes.

3. How will my privacy and confidentiality be protected?

All staff and volunteers of the Canadian Cancer Society sign confidentiality agreements. Anything you say to your volunteer or a peer support staff person is considered confidential. The only exception would be if you were at risk of harming yourself or someone else.

As a privacy and confidentiality safeguard, peer support volunteers will never have access to your last name or address. In addition, they will only be given your first name, telephone number(s) and email after they have accepted your request to speak with them.

In addition to protecting your privacy, we also take steps to protect our volunteers’ privacy. This means that you will not be given your volunteer’s full name, phone number or address.

To learn more about our privacy policy, please click here.

4. Who are your volunteers?

Peer support volunteers are cancer survivors and former caregivers who are at least a year past the end of their active treatment or caregiving experience. In order to become a volunteer, they have passed a rigorous screening process and have successfully completed peer support training. In addition, they benefit from ongoing coaching and support from specialized staff.

5. How soon after I’ve made a request for a volunteer can I expect a phone call?

Volunteers will respond to your initial request within 48 hours. If the request is accepted, volunteers are generally able to make the first phone call within 3 days of accepting the request, although this will also depend on your availability.

6. If I don’t have my volunteer’s phone number, what should I do if I want to talk to them again?

At the end of each phone call, you and your volunteer should: agree on a specific day and time for the next contact; set an approximate date for the next contact; or decide that no further calls are needed.

7. Why does my volunteer have to block their phone number when they call?

Many of our volunteers support more than one person at any given time. They are required by program guidelines to block their number in order to protect their privacy and help them effectively manage their volunteer, personal and/or work obligations.

8. I have a call planned with my volunteer but I need to reschedule – what should I do?

Any rescheduling can be done via email.

9. How often will my volunteer call me?

The frequency of your calls will be decided upon by you and your volunteer, and will depend on your preference as well as the volunteer’s availability. This means that you may speak to your volunteer once a week or once a month (or even less frequently), or anything in between.

10. How long can I stay in touch with my volunteer?

The length of connections varies greatly. You may find that you only need to speak with a volunteer once or twice, or you may choose to speak with them for several weeks or months as you go through the various stages of your treatment. Although volunteers are typically available to make one or two calls after treatment has ended, in general their focus is on supporting you during active treatment.

11. Can I speak to more than one volunteer?

Yes. There are some situations in which getting more than one perspective can be helpful. For instance, if you’ve been given two different treatment options, you may find it helpful to speak with a volunteer who has had Treatment A and another volunteer who has had Treatment B.

There are also cases in which there may not be a volunteer available who meets all of your criteria. In a situation like this, you may wish to speak with a volunteer with whom you have some things in common, such as a diagnosis, and also speak with a second volunteer who meets the remaining criteria, such as similar treatment,

Because we have a limited number of volunteers, and each volunteer can only support a limited number of clients at any one time, there is a limit of two volunteers per person. Most people find that they get the support they need from one volunteer. If you feel that you would benefit from speaking with more than two volunteers, please contact a staff person at 1-888-939-3333 or contact us.

12. What if I can’t find a volunteer who has the kind of experience I’m looking for?

Although we have hundreds of volunteers, please keep in mind that they represent a small percentage of all Canadians who have been impacted by cancer. Depending on your circumstances, this might mean that you will need to adjust your search criteria and/or use the approach described above (see “Can I speak to more than one volunteer?”).

13. I’d like to speak with a volunteer in a language other than English or French – is this possible?

In some cases, yes. A number of different languages are spoken by our volunteers. You will have the opportunity to search for volunteers by language, if this is important to you.

14. My volunteer lives in another province – does it cost them anything to call me?

No, there is no cost to your volunteer for any long distance charges for calls they make to you. The costs for the program are supported by donations to the Canadian Cancer Society.

15. I previously had a match with a volunteer but our connection ended. I now have a new cancer-related issue that I’d like to discuss with them. How do I do this?

Using your previously created username and password, you’ll first need to log into your peer support account. If any of your personal or medical information has changed, you can update your profile, and then search for a volunteer by entering the relevant matching criteria.