Cancer Doula FAQs
Commonly Asked Questions About Cancer Doula Support

What is a doula?


A doula is a professional who provides individualized support and assistance to individuals or families, especially during a medical or emotional crisis. A doula supports people who are going through MAJOR life-changes and significant health-related experiences.

NOTE:  Doula services may be eligible for reimbursement with flexible spending accounts (FSA), health savings accounts (HSA), and health reimbursement accounts (HRA) with a letter of medical necessity. They are not eligible for reimbursement with dependent care flexible spending accounts and limited care flexible spending accounts (LCFSA).


What is a cancer doula?

A cancer doula is someone who bridges the gap between the medical and emotional sides of cancer. They provide individualized support and walk with you through your cancer journey. 

  • As a cancer doula, I am focused on the present, the here and now. I am focused on living and helping you work through what is in front of you so that you can get to the other side of cancer. 

What does a cancer doula do?

  • A cancer doula can help empower you to take control of your treatment and care, acknowledge and face your fears, cope with the changes (physical, emotional, personal) associated with cancer, help you through the healing process, and focus on your new life that lies ahead after cancer. 

  • They can provide guidance, help you gain clarity, and get out of being overwhelmed and reduce stress so you can experience a good quality of life again. 

  • A cancer doula should listen carefully, contribute observations and questions, assist clients in developing action plans and provide resources, and support them through accountability and affirmation, in order to help them achieve their goals to get well and stay well. 

Why should I partner with a cancer doula?

I have been through cancer myself and I have survived it and thrived! I know about the shock of diagnosis and the resulting stress. I have experienced firsthand the anxiety for the future and what it may hold, and what may lie ahead. Through my personal experiences, I have acquired skills to help others through the twists and turns of cancer. 

 Each doula support session is individualized for a client’s specific needs and personal goals. While not an exhaustive list, below are some ways I can help:

  1. Be an experienced and skilled support person for my clients.

  2. Assist my clients through the shock of the diagnosis.

  3. Save my clients the time and effort of doing research.

  4. Help my clients reduce the feeling of isolation and fear.

  5. Help my clients develop coping skills that can help them push through their tough times.

  6. Help my clients communicate more effectively and form good relationships with their oncologists and others who are apart of their medical care team. Become your own self-advocate!

  7. Help my clients to enhance their personal relationships and become comfortable expressing their needs, wants, and desires.

  8. Help my clients cope with treatments and offer remedies for side effects.

  9. Help my clients work through changing body images.

  10. Help educate my clients on how to minimize the chance of cancer recurrence and/or progression of the disease.

Supporting Evidence

I conducted a customer outreach survey in July 2019, "What Kind of Support Do You Need?"

Out of 164 people that were surveyed, that had been impacted by cancer, 100% of them said that isolation is a major concern, and having someone to talk to who understands what it is like, would have made a huge difference during their cancer journey!

There is incredible strength in having a partner who understands your situation, who can help you navigate your cancer treatment journey, who can remind you to celebrate key milestones and identify coping mechanisms for the strenuous uphill climbs. Having this kind of coaching has been shown to outperform simple advice-giving based approaches in 80% of clinical trials.  It has been shown that providing more information about the diagnosis can help you make informed choices about treatment, enhance your understanding of the disease and treatment options and encourage adherence to treatment and follow up has been shown to help improve mental health outcomes.

What do you need to be a successful client?

  • Believe you are worthy of the best that life has to offer.

  • Believe that you are not cancer, you happen to be someone who has been diagnosed with cancer.

  • Know that you need a solid team to help you through this tough time.

  • The willingness and determination to learn to live with cancer.

  • The willingness to change or improve your mindset.

  • The willingness to be flexible and open.

  • The willingness to take ACTION!

  • The willingness to see yourself on the other side of cancer so you can plan for life after cancer.

How is the doula support done? Do I have to live in the same location as my doula?

My doula support can be done over the telephone from anywhere that is convenient for you. I am also available via Skype, Zoom, text messaging, and email.

No. You do not have to live in the same city as me in order for me to be your personal cancer doula.

What are the steps to getting started with On the Other Side cancer doula support?

  1. Click here                                             to schedule a complimentary 45-minute Discovery Session. During the session, you can ask me any questions that you may have. I would also like to learn about you by gathering background information to help identify your primary needs, concerns, and goals. Think of it as a non-judgmental conversation with someone who has been in your shoes.

  2. If, after the 45-minute complimentary discovery session, you decide to pursue my doula support services, I offer several options to meet your needs. I will provide a detailed explanation of the doula services I provide and my expectations of you as a client. 

  3. We will set up your first doula session and I will officially become a part of your cancer care team! I look forward to being there for you!

Click here to read an article by CURE magazine: Hiring a Cancer Coach: What You Should Know

     Rubak S, Sandboek A, Lauritzen T, Christensen B. Motivational Interviewing: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Gen Pract.


     American Psychological Association, Breast Cancer; how your mind can help your body, October 2011.





"Talaya Dendy is a joy to work with! She exudes calmness, and kindness and has a sense of humor and a warm smile. The first time I met her, I recall thinking that her very presence would be reassuring to people facing cancer; she's always upbeat and genuine. I met Talaya in 2019. When the pandemic started, she shared with me how she wanted to create online events for cancer patients, and I offered to work with her because she had a clear vision for the events and was willing to try new things. Together, we designed events that promote community and connection a way of coping with cancer and that encourage cancer patients and their caregivers to share their experience and solutions to various challenges of cancer, such as isolation. From the very first online event, Talaya established trust and helped the participants feel welcome. She encouraged them to contribute and guided the conversation with ease. As the need arose, she gracefully adjusted the agenda so it would better support the participants. Talaya really cares about cancer patients and caregivers and their concerns. She understands well what her clients are experiencing. She listens with her full attention, acknowledges their challenges, and help them find ways of working through them. If you have cancer, I highly recommend that you reach out to Talaya Dendy, the cancer doula."

Barb Bickford, Facilitator & Founder, Bickford Collaboration



Phone:  (651) 353-4606

St. Paul, MN, USA

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