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About Us

Our History

Cancer Hope Network is an organization that is all about its middle name—Hope. The national, non-profit group was founded in 1981 by Diane Byrnes-Paul, an oncology nurse whose uncle had cancer. After undergoing treatment he told his niece that his anguish and emotional pain would have been greatly reduced if only he could have spoken to someone who had been through a similar cancer experience and had survived. It was a lament that Diane had heard before—from many of the cancer patients she administered chemotherapy to on a daily basis. She came to realize that the only people who could restore hope to despairing cancer patients were those who had survived the same cancer, treatment, and side effects.

Her idea has evolved into Cancer Hope Network. This New Jersey-based, national organization provides one-on-one support to adult cancer patients and their families on a free and confidential basis through hundreds of trained Support Volunteers, all of whom are cancer survivors. Wanda Diak, CHN’s past Executive Director (and a survivor herself) notes: “We frequently find that the patients in most need of help are those recently diagnosed with cancer. At that point many people are overwhelmed by a wide range of emotions and concerns. The combination of fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and side effects causes many to despair.”

​Cancer Hope Network is non-sectarian, non-denominational, and is not affiliated with any religious, political, or commercial entity. Our Support Volunteers do not endorse or recommend treatments, facilities, or physicians. While most matches begin with a similar diagnosis or treatment, they also include other lifestyle circumstances and considerations that are important to the patient. Our volunteers' experiences include single parenthood, LGBT sexuality, English as a second language, diagnosis with multiple primary cancers, participation in clinical trials, genetic testing and other survivorship issues. 


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