Tag: cancer diagnosis

Some People Come into our Lives and Change us Forever

by Gail Hamm, program director

This morning I was chatting with one of our clients who is a long-term cancer survivor with severe lasting side effects from the treatment. He is grateful that he is alive but his life has been changed forever. One of those changes is that he is nourished through a feeding tube. What I take for granted…that I can swallow without difficulty, that I can meet a friend for a cup of coffee, that I will gather with family for Thanksgiving…the joy of shared community through food, is not what he experiences. Those pleasant times of camaraderie over food are gone forever.

In spite of these losses, my friend tries to avoid isolation. His story has helped others come to terms with their losses and appreciate life. Is it easy? No. Would he wish that life were different for him? Absolutely. But he keeps coming back to Cancer Services because he is making a difference in others’ lives. He gives others hope. For that, I am grateful.

One Random Act of Kindness, Huge Impact

by Gail Hamm, program director

Random acts of kindness are just that- random, arbitrary, subject to chance; as well as benevolent, kind, and caring. It’s a stretch to say that cancer is a random act of kindness, but I suppose that argument could be made. Chance? Luck of the draw? Yes, chance may play a part in whether or not you get cancer. Kindness? Certainly a diagnosis of cancer captures our attention, and cancer may cause us to appreciate life all the more, but I believe that few would say that cancer is kind.

Yet people with cancer may use the experience to make a difference in someone else’s life. I want to share a secret with you. There is an Anonymous Donor (I’ll call AD) in our midst. This person is a client of Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana. Every time AD comes in and obtains a case of nutritional drink, AD purchases a case for the next person who cannot afford to buy their own.

It’s a great surprise to that next client, to find out that just by chance, a stranger has provided for them. It makes a difference to that second client and brightens their day. I’m sure it does the same for AD, too. One random act of kindness. Two people blessed.

Lapper 2011 is Saturday!

by Amber Recker, development director

For the past few weeks, the first thing I’ve done every morning when I get into the office is pull up the Lapper website to see how much money we’ve raised for much-needed programs for people with cancer in our community. Today, our total surpassed $45,000. That will go a long way in supporting families dealing with the health crisis that is cancer.

Those who know me best, know how much this organization means to me. My job here is much more than a job- it feeds my soul because I know that every ounce of energy I put in directly and positively impacts someone in our community who needs help. Our entire team feels that way and we have the great honor of sharing a small part of the cancer journey with our clients; their strength, in the face of fear and great challenges, inspires us. That is why we do what we do.

You too can be inspired by joining us for Lapper 2011. Walk alongside those who have faced a cancer diagnosis and continue to thrive. We cannot do what we do without generous supporters like you. Even if you can’t walk, consider making a donation to the event and know that your treasure will be put to good use. Here’s a glimpse of what your donation provides:

  • $50 provides a wig for someone who is going through treatment
  • $100 provides one month of nutritional supplement for a client
  • $500 provides a year’s worth of prescriptions, food and co-pay assistance to a client
  • $850 provides one hospital bed
  • $1,000 provides one year of emotional support
Register or make a donation to Lapper 2011 <<HERE>>

Comfort During Chaos

by Gail Hamm, program director

For whatever reason, this morning is not proceeding as I would like it to. It is filled with chaos and uncertainty. There are staff members who are ill, volunteers who are unable to assist, meetings to attend, and a phone that is constantly ringing.

The chaos this morning reminds me of the chaos that a cancer patient experiences. Best intentions have slid away and nothing is as it is supposed to be. The normal pattern of the day has been disrupted and I am left wondering what will happen next. People I had counted on are not here. I am being pulled in all directions. I don’t know what will happen next.

But even as I am feeling the uncertainty of today and the next few days, my discomfort is nothing compared to that of a cancer patient. While my anxiety is temporary, that of a newly diagnosed cancer patient, at times, appears to have no end.

The Client Advocates at Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana are familiar with the anxiety and chaos felt by cancer patients and their families. The Advocates are able to provide stability through active listening, information and referral, assistance with problem solving skills, and procurement of needed equipment and supplies.

The first place to call after a cancer diagnosis is Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana…(260) 484-9560 or toll free (866) 484-9560.

We are here to help you deal with the chaos that a cancer diagonosis can cause. Please help us spread that message.

We Are Here to Assist You

by Gail Hamm, program director

“I strongly feel that the people at Cancer Services have done their best to make me feel supported and you all have kept in touch with me to make sure that I am ok. Thank you for reaching out to me when I didn’t reach out to you.” ~ A Cancer Services client

Clients say it better than I can. When you are diagnosed with cancer and do not know what to do next, call Cancer Services. A friendly, knowledgeable professional advocate is here to assist you.

Knowledge is power. Knowing what to expect before you travel the unknown paths of treatment and recovery can lessen the stress and help you heal faster. Dealing with financial issues, employment issues and day-to-day pressures is so much easier when these concerns are shared with a Cancer Services’ client advocate.

The first call to make after a diagnosis of cancer is: (260) 484-9560 or toll free (866) 484-9560

Talk to Your Kids About Cancer

by Linda Bewley, outreach coordinator

“You have cancer,” are three words that will turn your world upside down. The moment that diagnosis is given your life changes. Will I live or die? What sort of treatment will I have to have? How sick will I be? How will I care for my family These are just some of the questions that instantly come to mind.

It is a time of huge change, uncertainty and fear. For most of us, sitting down to talk to our kids is not the first thing we think of when we receive this diagnosis. And, when we do think of it, the idea of sitting with our children and trying to make sense out of a disease that we do not understand and are petrified of is intimidating. We are scared—do we dare show this fear to our children who look at us as invincible?

We often assume, incorrectly, that children are too young or too self-absorbed (in the case of tweens and teens) to be overly affected by this diagnosis. WRONG! Children always know—maybe not all, but they do know something has happened and they are immediately affected. Being honest at this time can be painful for you, but telling them from the beginning will allow them to become part of your team.

Speaking from experience, these little people need to be considered right from the get-go. Children are very tuned in to family issues even if they do not make it apparent. They need to be included in this life altering crisis, because it does affect them directly. If they are not, the consequences will come out, usually in a negative way. By letting them become part of your team, they can feel useful by participating in age appropriate actions.

My daughter (6) had her friends help her make a huge welcome home sign and she made me get well cards on a regular basis (which I still have today). My son (10) helped do chores around the house when I was just too tired. Both children suffered from fear at first because I tried to protect them from this family crisis. Once I was honest with them, all of us were able to function as a team and reestablish the bond of trust that had been broken. Let your children be there for you as you are for them.

Communication is the key, no matter what the age. Children have the right to know what is going on. That knowledge is their right and also their greatest need. Always be open and honest and encourage them to ask questions. Trying to protect your children from the unpleasant truths will only make them distrustful. The most important thing at this time is for them to trust the two most important people in their lives—the parent that is sick and the parent that is there to continue to care for them.

Following is a list of books that might prove helpful if you find yourself in this situation:

Can I Still Kiss you? By Neil Russell; How to Help Children Through a Parent’s Serious Illness, by Kathleen McCue; Mira’s Month, by Deborah Weinstein-Stern; Vanishing Cookies, by Dr. Michelle B. Goodman; internet article entitled “Teen Views: How to Cope with a Sick Parent”, by Virginia Allen

Spread the Word!

by Gail Hamm, program director

Cancer Services’ Client Advocates often hear this lament from a new client: “I wish I had heard about you sooner!” Of course we think we are doing everything the get the word out…news releases, Facebook, Twitter, Friends for Lunch, the Cancer Services’ website, brochures and folders at treatment centers, community presentations, etc. But these messages are not enough. We need your help to bring people to Cancer Services sooner.

People are amazed by all the items in our warehouse. Whether a camisole for a client about to have a mastectomy, gauze bandages for a wound, a hospital bed to allow a patient to sleep in an elevated position…all the services at Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana are here to make the lives of people with cancer and their families better.

In addition, clients in any stage of their cancer find that support groups are very helpful. Both clients and caregivers benefit from being able to talk with others to find out what to expect before, during and after treatment.

Most people believe that they have plenty of support from family, friends and their faith community. But Cancer Services is unique. Where else, in one place, can you find no-charge 1-on-1 emotional support from advocates, financial assistance, information about community and national resources, medical equipment and supplies, library, wig salon, massage, exercise, support groups and educational workshops?

So tell your friends and neighbors. Spread the word. Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana is the first place to go to after a diagnosis of cancer!

Upcoming Seminar, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

“Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: From Diagnosis to Treatment and Beyond”

A collaboration between Cancer Services and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Presented by Dr. David Zimmerman, Fort Wayne Medical Oncology and Hematology

Tuesday, April 19, 6-8 p.m. Healing Arts Center, Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana

Dinner provided

The program will explore the subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The diagnosis process and staging system will also be explained so that patients and caregivers are better prepared to ask questions of their medical team, as staging can impact treatment regimen. New treatment options will be presented, in addition to available resources.

Reservations: Please call 484-9560 or toll free 866-484-9560


Elizabeth Edwards…She Won

by Dianne May, President & CEO

We’ve all heard by now that Elizabeth Edwards has died. She made it clear to friends and family that she didn’t want it said that “she lost her battle with cancer.” In her words, the battle is about living a good life and she won.

As overwhelming and all-consuming as a cancer diagnosis can be, most people come to the conclusion that they don’t want to be defined by their cancer experience. That’s true of many of the difficult challenges that life brings.

Elizabeth lost her first child in an auto accident when he was a teenager. I heard her in an interview once talking about grief and loss. She was firm in her belief that friends and family should never shy away from talking about someone who has died. Rather she believed that such conversations were not so much a reminder that the loved one had died but rather a reminder that the individual had lived and such memories brought joy.

By all accounts, Elizabeth was a strong and nurturing soul, a force to be reckoned with, and a woman who won her battle by living a good life.

Discovering Strength Within

by Gail Hamm, program director

I watched a webinar last week and the presenter talked about the Oz effect, as in The Wizard of Oz. You know the story. The characters traveled to Oz to meet the wizard hoping that he could solve their problems and give them what they needed- a way home, a heart, a brain, and courage. What the characters ultimately discovered is that the wizard was a sham and that he was unable to give them anything more than what they had come to him with.

They had the answers, the abilities, the strength and courage all along. It was inside each of them and they just had to discover that. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, she starts looking for the answers and the courage. Sometimes, out of the void, she is given the answers she needs. She finds superhuman strength to persevere. She endures experiences that a few weeks before would have seemed impossible. A cancer patient often finds within, more than would be thought possible.

When faced with a crisis, we discover our true selves. In addition, we discover our true friends and family. An additional source of strength and support is a Client Advocate from Cancer Services. Don’t hesitate to make that connection when you need it. When we don’t know if we have the strength within us, an understanding and knowledgeable friend can be a wonderful companion on the journey.