ZERO is proud to launch its Caregiver Connector Program: a peer-to-peer support program for those who are currently caring for men with prostate cancer as well as those who have lost their loved one due to this disease.
“We know how vital caregivers are to the prostate cancer journey, and truthfully, caregivers have a journey that’s all their own too,” says ZERO’s Kate Gibbons. “This program is a really neat way to connect people who have had similar experiences, and for them to hear from those who have been through it firsthand.”
The program pairs members with one of ZERO’s Caregiver Connector Mentors, all of whom are trained, surveyed, and come from different caregiving backgrounds. The ZERO team personalizes each match-up based on what each caregiver identifies as their main concerns and preferences. Because of this, we are able to support a full range of caregiver relationships – those caring for spouses, siblings, sons, or fathers; those helping out friends or neighbors; and those providing either day-to day or long-distance support.
“We’re really able to personalize our matches,” says Gibbons. “In general, caregivers can benefit just by talking to someone who’s had a similar experience. It really provides a listening ear and a space for them to use as an outlet.”
Caregivers and their mentors connect virtually over the phone or through email. This program is particularly vital during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it allows for caregivers to make that connection without leaving their homes.
Athena Bogdanos is one of ZERO’s Heroes and a new Caregiver Connector Mentor. After losing her father to prostate cancer back in October 2018, she stayed involved in ZERO’s run/walks and is now hoping to share her experience with others as a mentor.
“I am so excited for the mentor program because I am able to give the advice that maybe I wanted,” she told us.
“Everyone’s story is different, and everyone needs someone that they can talk to and will make them feel safe.”
Prostate cancer affects so many people it comes close to, often taking a huge emotional toll on families and loved ones. The program is here to provide peer-to-peer assistance, and to allow a space for caregivers to let out their frustrations and concerns. At ZERO, it’s one of the most important things we can do: create a network founded on real, authentic support. We call it the ZERO Family.
“You can read all the medical information you can find, or you can talk to a lot of doctors, but we’ve heard a lot of feedback that having a peer to talk to can be the most helpful thing,” says Gibbons.
For more information on the Caregiver Connector Program, as well as caregiver tips related to COVID-19, check out our video from Giving Tuesday Now.