Parents of children newly diagnosed with cancer have increased anxiety, depression, and numerous questions. Many of these concerns can only be answered by parents who have undergone a similar experience.
Our institution lacked a formal parent-to-parent mentoring program for parents of children newly diagnosed with cancer.
The Parent Family Advisory Council (PFAC) recommended implementation of a formalized program that would promote a structured approach to mentoring, with a formal referral process and designated parent mentors who had been vetted, trained, and supported by the institution.
In 2010, a pilot parent-to-parent mentoring program was initiated.
Since the programs initiation, 4062 encounters have been documented. This represents an annual average of 72 mentees paired with 20 mentors, averaging 677 annual encounters. Parents view the mentoring relationship as positive and report that they feel understood, less anxious, and less isolated.
We show that a parent-to-parent mentoring program is feasible and sustainable over time. Our model is now transitioning from a staff referral to self-referral, as well as incorporating real-time mentoring into the new commons area for patients and their families. A formal volunteer mentoring program can assist parents in navigating the trajectory of childhood cancer, decreasing isolation.

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